World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence Date in the current year: November 18, 2022

World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence is observed annually on November 18. It was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2022 to shine a light on the sexual exploitation and abuse of children and bring together stakeholders from around the world to prevent it.

According to reports provided by the World Health Organization, every year millions of children around the globe fall victim to sexual abuse in one of its many forms: sexual activities, indecent exposure, child grooming, and child sexual exploitation (which includes the production of child pornography). It can occur in many settings, including home and school. According to research, more than 70% of abusers are family members or acquaintances, and only a small portion of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are total strangers.

One of the main forms of child sexual abuse is child marriage. Even in countries where marriage age is legally set at the age of majority, long-standing cultural traditions may override legislation. Child marriage is fairly widespread in developing countries in parts of Africa, South, Southeast and West Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. According to 2018 data from UNICEF, the countries with the highest child marriage rates were Bangladesh, Chad, the Central African Republic, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, and Niger.

Child sexual abuse takes an enormous toll on its victims. In addition to physical effects (injury, infections, neurological damage), it has serious psychological consequences, which can include anxiety, depression, PTSD and C-PTSD, and propensity to further victimization in adult life.

The resolution to establish World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence was sponsored by Nigeria and Sierra Leone and co-sponsored by more than 120 other UN member nations. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution by consensus.

One of the biggest proponents of the resolution was First Lady of Sierra Leone Fatima Maada Bio, a survivor of child marriage. During her address to the General Assembly she stressed that sexual abuse and exploitation of minors is a global public health crisis that must be acknowledged. It is crucial that stakeholders take action to protect children around the globe from sexual abuse, especially girls because the global prevalence of child sexual abuse is considerably higher for females than for males, and the majority of child marriages are between an underage girl and an adult man.

Alhaji Fanday Turay, Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the UN, noted that child sexual abuse is an enormous violation of human dignity but a lot of victims are too afraid to speak up and keep suffering in silence and shame. The proclamation of World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence is a big step toward bringing international attention to this appalling childhood trauma and mobilizing all countries and civil society to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

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