Dr. Rinchen Chophel, director general of the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) addressed the Global Study High-Level Working Group on sexual exploitation of children through tourism meeting in Madrid by VIDEO. He was unable to attend because of Spanish Schengen Visa difficulties.
Dr. Chophel said:
I convey my humble greetings to all of you who are gathered here today in our common mission to create a safer and happier world for the children of the world. It is my misfortunate that I could not make it to this important gathering despite my deepest wishes.
The South Asia Initiative to ENd Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) is the South Asian response to the global call by the UN Secretary to End Violence Against Children. SAIEVAC is the only SAARC Apex Body for Children since the 17th. SAARC Summit in 2011 and also a member of the Global Partnership since February 2017.
SAIEVAC I believe is the only inter-governmental body in the world that has created in its governance structure an inclusive platform for children, civil society organizations, and UN/INGO partners to collectively drive the South Asian movement to end violence against children… and create a better world for children in the SAARC Region. The mandate of SAIEVAC is to employ a system-building approach to strengthen child protection across the region and address five key thematic areas (child marriage, corporal punishment, child labor, sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child trafficking) with CHild Participation, disability, and gender as cross cutting themes.
The 4th SAIEVAC Ministerial Meeting held in May 2016, hosted by the Government of India and SAIEVAC Regional Secretariat was an important milestone for SAIEVAC. The meeting took the opportunity to review the 10 Years of the Global Study, 10 years of the SAF/ SAIEVAC Journey and the 20 years of the Global Congress on CSEC. As a special consideration, ECPAT was invited as a full-fledged delegation to the meeting.
The Ministerial meeting after taking serious cognizance of the situation of CSEC in the region, among many key related decisions endorsed that.
- A regional strategy should be developed for addressing all forms of sexual abuse, exploitation (including online) and trafficking that also builds on the existing situations in the different member states, that will guide SAIEVAC while developing the second five-year plan.
- SAIEVAC should initiate a process for settings regional standards and codes of conduct that safeguard children from commercial sexual abuse and exploitation in travel and tourism
- SAEVAC regional and national mechanisms explore opportunities to mainstream and scale up efforts to address sexual exploitation and abuse of children including trafficking by tapping into potential opportunities for technical and financial support.
Between then and now, much has been made to operationalize the above decisions. Notably, among the activities undertaken, I want to highlight the following:
- Initial Draft of the Regional Strategy on CSEC and Online Safety (OS) developed in close partnership with ECPAT International, selected experts for partners in South Asia, SAARC Secretariat and the SAIEVAC Mechanisms (since July 2016)
- A regional Children’s Consultation held in December 2016 on CSEC & OS in partnership with Plan supported CSO projects and ECPAT.
- A SEIEVAC Interfaith discourse held on the draft Strategy in December 2016
- A background document on the situation of CSEC&OS in the SAARC Member states is at an advantage stage of finalization in partnership with ECPAT.
- Ongoing efforts to set up a Regional Coalition of like minded partners on CSEC & OS to support the regional efforts of SAIEVAC.
With the critical support from the Global Fund/WeProtect and ongoing collaboration with ECPAT and other key partners, SAIEVAC will be organizing the Regional Expert Group Meeting to review Regional Strategy in the 3rd of August 2017, besides a series of national level consultations in selected countries including a review of the legal and policy environment in the region.
With the complementary ongoing effots from ECPAT Internationa and its network partners as well in different countries, I have every reason to feel confident that we will make a significant difference in the coming years.
However, SAIEVAC will need to raise additional resources to sustain this momentum and further energize the next (5th) ministerial meeting in terms of greater political convergence and ownership on CSEC & OS.