Key research from Out of The Shadows Index to be shared at SVRI Forum 2019
Critical research from the Out of the Shadows Index (OOSI), a study measuring how 60 countries are responding to sexual violence against children, will be shared at the SVRI Forum 2019. This global conference on violence against women and children will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa from 21 to 25 October 2019.
Child and women sexual violence happens across the world mostly in the shadows, regardless of a country’s economic success, and costs countries billions, while keeping women and children in poverty. SVRI Forum 2019 aims to increase awareness and promote research on sexual violence to influence policy and practice especially in low and middle income countries.
Over 600 attendees including government and United Nations representatives, researchers, policymakers, activists and funders from over 120 countries will gather at SVRI Forum 2019 to design solutions to end violence against women and children. The OOSI, by the Economist Intelligence Unit, developed with support of the World Childhood Foundation, Oak Foundation and Carlson Family Foundation, measures policies and practices of countries to address child sexual violence, bringing it out of the shadows and ‘shining a light’ on this matter.
The countries in the Index were given an aggregate score out of 100 in the four categories of environment; legal framework; government commitment and capacity; and engagement of industry, civil society and media. Each category has been weighted differently according to their importance as a priority in driving progress on the issue of sexual violence against children, which has been agreed upon by experts.
The OOSI covers a range of issues including policies on child marriage, reproductive and sexual health, gender differences, law enforcement, victim support, and child sexual abuse online and focuses on engagement of businesses in fighting child sexual violence. The policies, practices and standards presented in the OOSI highlight how governments, businesses and society can move toward achieving Target 16.2 in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for ending all forms of violence against children by 2030.
Key findings from the Out of the Shadows Index:
- UK, Sweden and Canada hold the top three positions in the OOSI. The UK government policy to protect children is well developed and the country has a high level of engagement from industry, society and media. Sweden’s overall environment for children and its legal framework are strong, as are Canada’s. However, these countries still face challenges with the United Kingdom and Sweden not having laws requiring Internet service providers block child sexual exploitation content, and Canada and the United Kingdom not having official data on the prevalence of child sexual exploitation.
- The top 10 countries in the OOSI Index are among the world’s richest, but only four score 75 (out of 100), revealing substantial gaps in protective conditions for children in even the wealthiest countries.
- For the 60 countries in the OOSI Index, the average score is only 50.2.
- Many countries have strong legal frameworks for protecting children from sexual violence, but most do less well implementing policies or creating effective responses.
- Partnerships with the private sector and industry are needed to better protect children, especially against online child sexual abuse, where expansion of broadband internet has placed more children at risk.
- Despite investments and efforts globally to combat online child sexual abuse and to track reported incidents of sexual violence against children, just half of the countries in the OOSI Index collect nationally representative prevalence data on child sexual abuse and only five collect data on child sexual exploitation.
What can countries, business and society do to end sexual violence against children?
Ending sexual violence against children requires a stronger, more targeted response from governments, businesses and societies around the world. Countries need to act and measure progress to end sexual violence against children in the run-up to the 2030 deadline. Strategies include:
- Increasing awareness and knowledge of sexual violence against children as a priority public health problem through evidence-based communication and information to influence policy and service delivery.
- Developing a political mandate and sufficient resources in each country to support a comprehensive legal framework. Governments need to commit to international standards and to their own domestic policies, as well as have institutional capacity for specialised agencies and programmes.
- Research can be used to advance social movements and researchers can work alongside activists to develop relevant research to inform, strengthen and expand activism around violence against children.
- Technology is critical to combatting child sexual abuse and exploitation on and offline. Data can be collected and used strategically to inform decision-making.
- Developing legislation that mandates organisations like banks to look out for signs of human trafficking.
- Businesses must monitor networks and work devices for illicit usage. For companies that share data and content online, there should be a notice and takedown system, which allows the public to report potentially unlawful content.
- Having help from multinational organisations. INTERPOL, the global police agency, has developed International Child Sexual Exploitation Database, a tool that uses image and video comparison software to identify victims. It is accessible to law enforcement in 54 countries and contains over one million unique CSA images and videos as of 2017.
- Engaging with businesses in the tourism sector to fight child sexual violence by joining The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism.
Further pathways to progress in fighting sexual violence and country rankings are available in the Out of the Shadows Index at www.outoftheshadows.eiu.com. To find out more about the SVRI Forum 2019, visit the SVRI Forum website: www.svri.org/forums/forum2019; Facebook: Sexual Violence Research Initiative; Twitter: @TheSVRI or Instagram: thesvri.