According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-7- boys are victims of sexual abuse.
Agencies initiated by WHO have put their resources together to measure progress and drive solutions to end sexual abuse against children.
Some of the agencies include the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SRVI), the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the Global Partnership, Together for Girls and the Out Of the Shadows Index (OOSI).
The resource they developed is called INSPIRE: Seven Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children.
What is INSPIRE?
INSPIRE is an evidence-based resource for people committed to preventing and responding to violence against children. Ten agencies developed INSPIRE in 2016 as an intervention strategy to prevent sexual abuse against children.
The strategy includes:
- Implementing and enforcing laws
- Making environments safer
- Providing support to parents and caregivers
- Economic and income strengthening
- Response and support services
- Education and life skills to prevent sexual abuse
A global crisis
The sexual abuse of children is a global issue regardless of the economic situation and the quality of life the citizens of the country experience.
The circumstances surrounding sexual abuse are not always the same and include cases where children are coerced, raped by strangers, systematic rape; when there's conflict and sexual harassment.
It also happens in instances of child marriage, forced prostitution and human trafficking.
Sexual abuse victims/ survivors experience devastating consequences such as educational and professional underachievement, psychological harm and disease.
Children are constantly at risk of being abused due to ongoing wars, conflict and natural disasters, among other issues. The internet has also been an accomplice in increasing the sexual abuse perpetrated against children.
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Out Of the Shadows Index (OOSI) is a benchmarking tool of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI), which has mapped out how sixty countries have responded to sexual violence against children.
OOSI was developed by international experts drawing on the latest quantitative data and qualitative research. The countries under the Index are given an aggregate score out of 100, in four categories which include environment, legal framework, government commitment and capacity.
The OOSI's strategy to end sexual abuse against children is to increase awareness through influencing policies, service delivery, reaching out to governments to update their international standards and domestic policies.
In South Africa, sexual violence against children has been tackled with the approval of a comprehensive legislation on sexual offences.
However, support for victims and resources for legal and law enforcement professionals could still be strengthened.
Preventing the sexual abuse of children in South Africa
Together For Girls, The Equality Institute and the Oak Foundation completed a systematic review of proven solutions and best practices that prevents sexual abuse against children, and found the seven INSPIRE strategies have been successful components in preventing sexual abuse against children.
In South Africa, a comprehensive system of training and guidance for frontline support workers who respond to sexual violence cases against children has been implemented.
The Department of Education has been issuing guidelines for teaching professionals, and there are similar programmes for medical, social and psychiatric workers.
Laws have been set in place to prevent child sexual exploitation.
The country provides protection against the procurement of minors for sexual services and the visual depiction of minors engaging in sexual activities, and has signed into law the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill in 2013.
A legislation specific to online grooming has been enacted in South Africa, according to 2017 data from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
In the private sector, the country’s largest telecommunications operator, Vodacom, has provided a toll-free crisis telephone counseling service for children.
OOSI has asked people to use the resources that have been availed, urging everyone to work together to prevent and respond to the sexual abuse of children.
It is everyone's responsibility to raise awareness, increase their understanding regarding this injustice, change our thinking and act in order to reduce and eventually entirely eradicate the sexual abuse of children.
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