Child sexual exploitation - Focus on Cape Verde
vendredi 12 mai 2017 à 04:00
Cape Verde is a popular travel destination. Indeed, the archipelago is one of LuxairTours’ destinations, Luxembourg’s largest tour operator. The catalogue invites readers to discover the island of Boa Vista where they can enjoy an atmosphere similar to the Caribbean, from its countless hours of sunshine to its unique, white sandy beaches(1). It definitely sounds and looks great.
Luxembourg hosts a strong Cape-Verdean community(2) and two of its members, Jennifer and Helenice, recently headed to Cape Verde to spend a year volunteering for ECPAT Luxembourg.
In this newsletter, you will read about Jennifer’s and Helenice’s first impressions and learn about the issue of child sexual exploitation in Cape Verde as well as about ECPAT Luxembourg’s ambitious new project. Take a few minutes to dive into ECPAT’s world.
National legal framework and context
The prostitution or sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18 is punishable by law in Cape Verde but the prison sentence is reduced where victims between the ages of 16 and 18 years are concerned. The trafficking of children under the age of 16 years in a foreign country for sexual purposes is also punishable by law. However, the penal code does not provide for victims aged between 16 and 18 years, which is inconsistent with international law.(3) Adolescent victims, therefore, benefit from less protection under existing law and as such, may be rendered invisible to law enforcement and social welfare officials, granting impunity to those who profit from their exploitation.(4)
The minimum age for consensual sex is 14 years in Cape Verde. It is important to note that the age of consensual sex should not apply in cases of sexual exploitation where the victim is manipulated, coerced or forced. According to international law, the sexual exploitation of persons under 18 years is illegal. Regarding pornography, the law prohibits the use of children under 18 and it prohibits paedophilia.(5) The minimum legal age for marriage is 18 years.
There have been no official reports of child pornography, but there have been reports of cases of children involved in prostitution. Sex tourism, sometimes involving minors, is a phenomenon that occurs in Cape Verde, particularly on the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, which are popular tourist destinations. Children are also known to have been exploited in sex trafficking in Santa Maria, Praia, and Mindelo.
As the tourism industry undergoes dramatic changes, so does the vulnerability of children. New forms of travel and tourism provide alternative opportunities for sexual predators to abuse children. For example, volun-tourism is increasingly popular, but can leave children vulnerable to abuse if appropriate child protection policies and procedures are not in place. People also travel or live abroad for professional reasons such as businesspersons, contractors, humanitarian aid workers or the military.
Who are the stakeholders ?
The Cape Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (Instituto Caboverdiano da Criança e do Adolescente - ICCA), under the Ministry of Youth, Employment and Human Resources Development constitutes the national reference for child protection. ICCA uses both legal and civil mechanisms (family code, civil code, criminal code, and the labour code) to protect and defend the rights of children. ICCA runs two emergency centres for children in Praia and Mindelo that provide temporary care to children who are victims of sexual violence, abuse, exploitation and abandonment.(6)
A national committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Institute for Gender and Equality, the Association of Cape Verdean Journalists, the Solidarity Foundation, the National Commission for Human Rights and Citizenship and NGOs exists to prevent and combat the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and adolescents. Furthermore, a Code of Ethics against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents provides guidance for all agencies involved in the tourism sector in Cape Verde since 2014.
In terms of civil society, ECPAT Luxembourg’s local partner, ACRIDES, is one of Cape Verde’s leading child protection NGOs. ACRIDES’ vision is a world where children feel safe and protected against all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. Its core mission consists of providing information and raising awareness in order to contribute to strengthening the national system of child protection. ACRIDES also runs two day centres that provide support to 130 vulnerable children.
ECPAT Luxembourg’s new challenge
ECPAT Luxembourg was approached in 2015 by several local stakeholders concerned by the level of child sexual abuse and exploitation in Cape Verde. Indeed, a study published by ICCA stated that reports of child sexual abuse in the archipelago had increased fourfold between 2009 and 2014. The stakeholders who contacted ECPAT Luxembourg expressed the need for specialised training on the issue.
As a result, ECPAT Luxembourg collaborated with ECPAT Brazil to organise a six-day training course for child protection professionals in Santo Antão in January 2016. This training was subsequently replicated for child protection professionals in Praia in June 2016. The training resulted in the development of an action plan to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation in Cape Verde that provides the base of ECPAT Luxembourg’s new two-year project in partnership with ACRIDES, ICCA and ECPAT Brazil (2017-2018). The aim of the new project is to strengthen the protection of children and adolescents against sexual exploitation and abuse in Cape Verde by improving professional capacity and raising public awareness. One of the main results of the project will be the creation of a national network against child sexual abuse and exploitation comprising local committees in each island. Further training for professionals, a public awareness raising campaign and research will also be carried out as part of the project.
The project is part of the 2017-2019 framework agreement between ECPAT Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The project’s budget is about 265.000 Euro of which 80% is financed by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, 10% will be contributed by the Government of Cape Verde and 10% needs to be raised by ECPAT Luxembourg.
(3) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy
Communiqué par ECPAT Luxembourg