The Republic of Moldova needs to devote more resources to identifying and supporting victims of child sexual exploitation, including from the most vulnerable groups, according to a joint Council of Europe and ECPAT international country overview released today.
The overview says that the country’s socio-economic situation and high migration rates have left many children vulnerable to violence, neglect, and exploitation. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has added further strain to the Moldovan child protection system, with refugee children facing heightened risks of trafficking and exploitation.
Although comprehensive criminal legislation exists and a specialised commission has recently been approved, a number of issues still need to be addressed. Reporting of sexual offences remains low and child-friendly justice procedures would benefit from further improvement. There has been a significant increase in sexual abuse and exploitation of children via technology: out of the 1,745 calls made in the first half of 2021 to the online platform that provides counselling to children who experienced online sexual abuse, 89% (1,554) of the calls were from children, with most referring to sexual extortion. Traditional norms and beliefs in the country contribute to the lack of awareness around gender-based violence among the country’s child population.
Suggestions for improvement include:
- Closing existing loopholes, such as the provision that requires offenders who benefit from sexual services provided by children to know for certain that the child is below 18.
- Enhancing protection for children in the context of travel and tourism.
- Establishing a single entity responsible for coordinating all online child safety efforts.
- Integrating education on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation into the core curriculum rather than offering it as an optional subject.
- Improving access to justice for child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, with a focus on simplifying legal procedures and increasing child-friendly practices within the justice sector.
- Putting in place mechanisms to involve children taking into account their evolving capacity.
The document was presented today at an event in Chisinau, bringing together representatives of national authorities, civil society, the Council of Europe and ECPAT International to discuss its main findings and recommendations.
Summary of the Country Overview (English)
Full Country Overview (English and Romanian)