The recently published report revealing widespread abuse within the Catholic church in France with 330 000 estimated victims of child sexual abuse, has been widely noted in media. The cases of abuse are recorded to have occurred since the 1950’s, meaning that tens of thousands of victims have experienced injustice for decades as their abuse has been covered and their voices silenced, never receiving recognition nor compensation for their extensive suffering. While criticizing the Catholic church we are not criticizing the faith – extensive abuse perpetrated and covered up by large institutions is happening all around us. All closed communities increase the risk of child sexual abuse and we must hold accountable those responsible and ensure justice to their victims.
At an international meeting held in Switzerland, likeminded groups representing victims from all over Europe initiated a comprehensive, large-scale Justice Initiative, with a mission to restore justice for victims of abuse in Europe. Through this political initiative, the abuse and sexual violence of children, especially at the hands of governments and churches is being comprehensively brought forward for the first time throughout Europe. A motion to bring the processing of abuse cases up to a pan-European level will be submitted to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, based on four central demands:
- Truth about child abuses – Discovering and revealing the truth about child abuses
- Official recognition – The official recognition of children who suffered from any kind of sexual, physical and psychological violence
- Reparation – Providing official reparation of children who suffered from any kind of sexual, physical and psychological violence
- Prevention – ensuring that legislations and individual countries focus on protecting all children and strengthening preventive work
Europe has been violating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for decades: hundreds of thousands of children have become victims of abuse and sexual violence. The most heinous forms of abuse have occurred in establishments led by the government or the church. In many cases around Europe, government officials have been partially responsible for the suffering or they have not been capable of protecting children from abuse and human rights violations. In the majority of European countries, past cases of abuse and sexual violence have not been processed, precisely as in the now revealed case of the Catholic church in France, and this must be changed.
”The goal is to break the silence and bring forth the truth about abuse and sexual violence against children and other heinous violations of the rights of the child” says Protect Children’s Executive Director, Senior Specialist, Psychotherapist Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen.
Protect Children stands by all victims of abuse and sexual violence, and will always continue to fight to bring forth the voices of victims and survivors. We deeply respect each person who breaks the silence and has the courage to speak up about the abuse they have experienced. We also support and defend parents and guardians whose child has become victim of a sexual crime through our peer-support groups, and strongly believe that sexual violence against a child is violence toward the entire family. The voices of victims of abuse and sexual violence have been silenced for too long – we must work together to break the silence and end the cycle of abuse.
Read more about the Justice Initiative – European response to child abuse cases here.