European Countries Failing Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Report Finds.

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Abolishing Statutes of Limitations for Justice

The Urgent Need for Reform A report released by Brave Movement and Child Global, leading international child protection advocacy groups, reveals that many European countries are failing survivors of child sexual abuse by maintaining statutes of limitations (SOLs). SOLs restrict the time period within which a victim can initiate criminal proceedings after the abuse has occurred, preventing authorities from holding sex offenders accountable and denying justice to survivors. The report highlights the urgent need for the abolition of SOLs for all forms of child sexual violence and abuse.

Worst Offenders in Europe

The report’s analysis of judicial frameworks identifies Luxembourg, Estonia, Greece, Malta, Czech Republic, Portugal, Lithuania, Finland, Slovakia, and Bulgaria as the worst offenders. In these countries, victims of child sexual abuse are unable to report the crime after reaching the age of 40. Additionally, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Slovenia, and Latvia are placed in the second tier, where SOLs expire when the victim reaches 40, despite the average age of abuse disclosure being over 50.

The Gold Standard:Ireland, Cyprus, Denmark, and Belgium

Ireland, Cyprus, Denmark, and Belgium stand out as the only EU countries where victims can report all or most child sex offences, regardless of the time that has elapsed since the crime occurred. According to the report, child sexual abuse is an alarming public health “epidemic” in Europe, affecting one in five children in the EU member states, equivalent to approximately 16 million children.

A Fundamental Human Right

Survivors of child sexual violence are left voiceless and burdened with trauma and stigma due to short criminal SOLs. The report emphasizes the urgent need to recognize access to justice for survivors as a fundamental human right. Brave Movement co-founder, Miguel Hurtado, who is both a survivor and child psychiatrist, urges European nations to endorse the gold standard for child protection by completely abolishing criminal and civil statutes of limitations, ensuring a safer future for generations to come.

Addressing Personal Trauma

Dr. Matthew McVarish, co-founder of Brave Movement, shared his personal experience at the Council of Europe, recounting his abuse at the hands of his uncle and his journey towards seeking justice at the age of 25. He highlights the disparity across European nations, emphasizing the necessity of taking immediate action to protect children from repeat sex offenders. The report also calls for the amendment of the Council of Europe’s Lanzarote Convention, aiming to safeguard children against sexual exploitation and abuse, by eliminating criminal limitation periods for child sexual offences across all member states.

SOURCE: Ref Image from The Mirror

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