Improving the normative framework and preventive mechanisms and policies in the area of protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse in the private sector, as well as educating children and adults about recognizing and protecting themselves from this type of violence, are the best ways to improve the position of children, it was assessed today at the conference "National dialogue on the protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse".
The conference, which was organized by the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia and the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia, was attended by representatives of parliamentary groups and committees in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, representatives of relevant ministries, state and provincial institutions, city administrations, courts, professional associations, the civil sector, independent state institutions and international organizations.
Opening the conference, the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić, stated that in recent years, children are the most frequent victims of human trafficking, and that the most common form of their abuse is exactly sexual exploitation.
"The private sector and the economy, especially tourism and catering, represent a critical point where children are at particular risk of sexual exploitation. For an effective fight against the sexual exploitation of children, first of all, changes in normative acts are necessary, but also the engagement of socially responsible companies", Pašalić said.
The Director of the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia, Saša Stefanović, also emphasized the importance of participation of the private sector and civil society in preventing the sexual exploitation of children through the application of internal norms, through self-regulation and co-regulation, and added that the organization has developed internal policies that are useful to all associations that work directly with children.
The Vice-President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and member of the Parliamentary Committee for Children's Rights, Elvira Kovač, presented the parliament's activities on changing the domestic legislation and implementing international conventions in the area of child rights protection, and stated that peer education is also needed in the fight against sexual exploitation.
The Minister for Family Welfare and Demography, Darija Kisić, emphasized that any kind of violence is unacceptable and that in the fight against sexual exploitation of children, prevention is very important, as well as pointing out sexual harassment, which is often a prelude to sexual abuse.
The State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Miomir Đorđević, pointed out that centres for social work are often the first to encounter cases of sexual abuse of children and stated that this topic requires the engagement of several competent authorities and other state actors and expressed the Ministry's readiness to participate in activities to protect children from sexual exploitation.
"Every year, millions of children are exposed to sexual abuse within the family, social community, in sports, at school... Every country has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children, and the only difference is in the approach to solving that problem", said the director of UNICEF in Serbia, Dejana Kostadinova.
Gordana Tiodorović, Assistant Director of the Sector of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce for providing support in the representation and protection of interests of members, said that in Serbia there are companies that implement internal protocols for the protection of children from abuse and that the SCC is ready to support the manner in which the problem of sexual exploitation of children in the private sector is solved, with its engagement.
The Deputy Protector of Citizens for Children's Rights, Jelena Stojanović, presented the activities of this independent institution for the protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as preventive work that is being carried out through the Youth Advisory Panel of the Protector of Citizens, in which children and young people learn about children's rights and ways to protect them.