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Sexual violence against children – Conference at the Farnesina. International initiatives must be placed on a systematic footing, says Belloni

The battle against sexual violence against children must be placed on a systematic footing by exchanging experiences and coordinating initiatives at the international level. That is the goal of the conference opened this morning at the Foreign Ministry in Rome. The conference is promoted by Italian Development Cooperation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the Equal Opportunities Department, the Council of Europe and the Istituto degli Innocenti in Florence.

The starting point is the Lanzarote Convention of July 2010, the first normative instrument that encompasses all types of sexual violence against children. Italy ratified the Convention in October 2012 and now wants to send out “a signal that the battle against sexual violence against children is on-going”, declared the Director General for Development Cooperation, Elisabetta Belloni. She underscored that the Convention can “strengthen the cooperation methodology between states, and more”.

Prevention, protection, the persecution of the perpetrators of offences and integrated national and international collaboration policies. These are the pillars of the Lanzarote Convention, explained the Council of Europe’s Director General for Human Rights, Philippe Boillat, who said that we must now work to “effectively implement” the provision.

The Conference will continue tomorrow, 30 November 2012, with the participation of the Foreign, Employment and Justice Ministers – Giulio Terzi, Elsa Fornero and Paola Severino. In supporting this event, the Government has set itself the objective, explained Belloni, of “fostering a shared vision and collaboration between institutions and civil society in the interests of coordinated and consistent cooperation by ‘System Italy’ in this sector”.

Combating the sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a key priority of Italian Development Cooperation. At the national level, Belloni pointed out that her Directorate has promoted numerous development education campaigns. In collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local and regional government, it has focused on raising awareness on the international instruments concerning this matter, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has also disseminated information on the situation of children in Italy and in the countries where Italian Development Cooperation has implemented its projects.

At the international level, Italian Development Cooperation has placed a special focus on coordination between central and local authorities, the aim being to ensure that intervention strategies are implemented effectively. It has supported close collaboration between the institutions and civil society, given the latter’s key role in applying concrete measures on behalf of children. This work has translated into a strong social impact in support of children and adolescents in our development cooperation partner countries.

To prevent and combat abuse, violence and the worst forms of exploitation of children, the work of Italian Development Cooperation has focused primarily on projects to strengthen the judicial and legislative systems of beneficiary countries. These activities have also embraced training for local decision makers and support for existing social protection networks. Awareness-raising in the tourism sector and collaboration between judicial authorities and police forces are other areas in which our efforts have been concentrated.

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