Europe accord to fight child abuse comes into force

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A European convention on fighting sexual abuse of children including in the family came into force Thursday, the Council of Europe said, hailing it as the first such international agreement.

The Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse aims to draw attention to abuses "by trusted individuals", including within the home or at school, the council said in a statement.

"It is the first international instrument to tackle all forms of sexual violence against children, including abuse perpetrated within the family environment," it said.

"Apart from sexual abuse, child prostitution and pornography and coercing children into participating in pornographic performances, the convention also deals with grooming and sex tourism," it said.

The convention has been signed by 39 of the Council of Europe's 47 member states and already ratified by five -- Albania, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands and San Marino -- enabling its entry into force on July 1.

There are no statistics on the extent of sexual violence against children in Europe, where there is a significant gap between the number of cases reported to police or the social services and real incidents.

According to a recent study by the UN's children's agency UNICEF, about two million children work in the sex industry and more than a million photographs of 10,000 to 20,000 child victims of sexual abuses circulate the Internet.

© 2010 AFP

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