ADDIS ABEBA – Member states of African Union urged on Tuesday to step up measures to tackle online child sexual exploitation.
The development and expansion of digital technologies have led to the exponential growth of online child sexual exploitation, affecting children in the continent.
Reports say inadequate law enforcement and weak internet regulation are contributing factors in the rise of child sexual exploitation.
Last week, a global summit held in Addis Ababa united key partners from governments, civil society, the technology industry, law enforcement agencies and research institutions against online child sexual exploitation.
In a communique they issued on Tuesday, the participants described child sexual exploitation as “one of the most heinous and devastating crimes of modern times”.
They said more should be done to protect children from abuse in the digital world.
Nations must step up “measures to tackle online child sexual exploitation and support the implementation” of the respective UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the communique says.
The participates also call on African Union Member States to reaffirm the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection and to develop national action plans to tackle online child sexual exploitation.
A report, published by the African Child Policy Forum in November, found out that grooming, sexting, sexual extortion and live streaming of child sexual abuse is made possible because few African countries have laws to protect children online.
Image: In October, people in Abidjan marched to denounce sexual violence against girls in the Ivory Coast. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images