2021 10 21
2021 10 21
On 18 October 2021, Child10 and its main partner, HM Queen Silvia’s Foundation Care About the Children (CATCH) co-organized a seminar on trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. Key UN and EU policymakers participated together with Child10 Awarded Member Organizations.
The seminar was hosted by CATCH at the Royal Palace in Stockholm in the presence of HM Queen Silvia. During the event, the Child10 Awarded Member Organizations were presented with their Award Diplomas by HM Queen Silvia who also held a passionate and informative speech about the developments in this field and her appreciation for organizations working on the ground with child victims and children at risk of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The seminar also included a high-level panel debate focusing specifically on the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in this field, and the need for stronger collaborations between the public, private and CSO sectors to address this growing crime. The debate also addressed the need to listen to organizations who are working directly with victims and children at risk, as well as to the survivors themselves. This enhanced collaboration needs to be on all levels, i.e. in the development and implementation of programs, policy and legislation in this field.
The overall objective of the debate was to gather all relevant actors in one room and listen to their various perspectives – from the CSO sector to the private and public sector at all national, regional and international levels, and through the discussions lay a strong foundation for increased collaboration in this field.
Malaika Oringa, a survivor and founder of the organization, Footprint to Freedom, represented the Awarded Member Organizations in the high-level panel and highlighted the need for meaningful participation of survivors, not just symbolically, but with real influence in key processes to ensure that the design and implementation of programs, policy and legislation in this field is adapted to the needs of survivors and effective for their rehabilitation and reintegration.
– The role of the survivor perspective needs to have a much stronger position influencing legislation and policy making and survivors need to be involved in every step from programming to policy making. The survivor role can not be limited to sharing their stories which itself can often be re-traumatizing Survivors needs to be seen as resources as we know first hand the techniques used by the perpetrators, said Malaika Oringa.
Other highlights from the debate included the accelerating effect that the pandemic has had in regard to online trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and Illias Chatizis, Chief of UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, pointed out that there are hardly any child trafficking cases now where online platforms have not been involved in the process at some point. There is, therefore, an urgent need for commercial online actors to self- regulate and at the same time, for governments to hold them accountable and require them to take responsibility.
Erik Wottrich, Head of Sustainability atTele2 participated as a representative of the private sector, and stated that the internet can be used for good as well as evil and that large commercial online actors should now come together and cooperate within the private sector to find solutions.
– We as an industry have to collaborate and find the right expert organisations to cooperate We have to work together and do much more, the companies, the gaming industry, the social media platforms, said Erik Wottrich.
Jan Elvelid, Head of Public Policy at Facebook in Sweden and Finland was also present at the seminar and asked the panel what more private actors such as Facebook can do to address this issue. In response to his question, Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, urged Facebook and other big brands in the private sector, and particularly online commercial actors, to ask that question also towards their own leadership, indicating that the will to act must come from the top.
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund also brought up the need to bring all stakeholders and decision makers at the table, but noted that coordination is a big job.
– I think we underestimate what we mean when we say that we need to coordinate the work, the work that it takes to get all the stake holders and decision makers around the same table. If we want to bring sectors together we have to see that it’s a job to be the coordinator, said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka
The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Diane Schmitt, stressed the importance of listening and learning from CSOs and working together to create new strategies and laws. She mentioned the recently adopted EU Anti-Trafficking Strategy which is an important tool with concrete recommendations and actions that now need to be implemented together with member states and in cooperation with other sectors.
– The civil society organisations do the work on the ground. We need to listen and learn from them and work together to create new strategies and laws, said Diane Schmitt.
MEP Evin Incir emphasized that this is a cross border problem that requires cross border actions, and we need to increase the knowledge and strengthen the child rights-based approach of those working directly with victims. She also highlighted the need to provide more funds to organizations working against child trafficking and that CSO and survivor representation must be ensured when developing policy and legislation.
The Swedish Ambassador-at-large against Human Trafficking, Anna Ekstedt stated that this issue is a top priority for the Swedish government and that not only must we address demand, but we must also focus on providing services, rehabilitation and reintegration programs to victims as well as preventative efforts in schools by educating children about this issue.
– We need a whole society approach to combat this, concluded Anna Ekstedt.
Finally, Therese Blixen, Managing Director of CATCH and moderator of the panel debate, concluded the discussion by saying that although it is clear that we have a long way to go, it is a good thing that all actors across the different sectors seem to be on the same page in terms of the urgent need to act together to end trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.