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World Day for Prevention
of Child Abuse - 19 November ©


2009 :     Geneva report  
2008 :     Geneva report      (Global report in preparation)
2007 :     Geneva report     Global report  
2006 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2005 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2004 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2003 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2002 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2001 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery



Geneva report 2002

Round Table: Progress in Preventing Child Abuse

Third year commemoration
More than 500 NGOs joined an international coalition to mark the Day. 19 November 2002 CVC, 9 rue Varembé, 1202 Geneva

Moderator: Mr. André Dunant, for 30 years former children’s judge, Canton of Geneva, and past President of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges

Members of the panel:
- Mrs. Latifa Benari, Founder and President of l’Ange Bleu Association, Paris
- Dr. Paul Bouvier, M.D. head of the Youth health service, Canton of Geneva
- Mrs. Anne-Françoise Comte Fontana, children’s judge - Canton of Geneva
- Mrs. Doris Dillman, social worker
- Mrs. Josiane George, President of Consultation Center for Victims of Sexual Abuse (C.T.A.S.) Geneva
- Mr. Philippe Jaffé, Psychologist and Assistant Professor - University of Geneva
- Mrs. Christiane Linnér, Senior Child Co-ordinator at UNHCR

This World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse, marking its third year, was created on 19 November 2000 by WWSF, in response to an alarming information published in the well-known Swiss newspaper Le Temps, i.e. that paedophile networks had created an international day in favour of paedophilia.

Designed to be commemorated each year on 19 November , in synergy with the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (20 November ), the World Day has as its aim to be a rallying point for highlighting the problem of child abuse and the need to intervene urgently by the creation and diffusion of effective prevention programs.

Starting from the assumption that governments and civil society organisations have to play and active role in the promotion and respect of children’s rights, and to give this Day its full dimension, WWSF launched in 2001 an international NGO coalition centring around this Day. The main aim of this coalition is to contribute toward the creation of a culture of prevention by setting up a world partnership committed to mobilising the public and professionals in the field of children’s issues.

Round Table Report
Elly Pradervand, Founder and Executive Director of WWSF, opens the Panel discussions by informing participants that this year more than 500 organisations in over 100 countries have joined the WWSF coalition and committed to mark 19 November with activities and events which will also be published on Internet ( Mrs Pradervand then presented the moderator of the Round Table.

Moderator André Dunant has just returned from Senegal where things are moving a great deal in the field of child abuse prevention. He showed posters and other documents indicating the big efforts made to sensitise the population in this field. In West Africa, more and more codes of conduct for organisation staff and trainers of trainers are being developed by NGOs.

Dr. Paul Bouvier stressed that the Youth Health Service is in the frontline in the field of sexual abuse of children. A survey made in Geneva in 2001 showed that 10% of the boys and 33% of the girls stated they had been sexually abused, and at least a third of the abuses appeared serious.

What can one do in the field of prevention? The first step is of course to inform children of the problem and dangers. Children who are informed that such abuses exist, that they have the right to talk about them and defend themselves, speak out much more easily and openly. Dr. Bouvier distinguishes between two approaches: prudence/protection and resilience/trust. An excellent information program entitled "Avec prudence, avec confiance" (with caution, with trust) has been introduced into the school system of the Canton of Geneva, and has been received with great enthusiasm by schoolchildren, teachers and parents alike. Geneva schools have for many years been giving sex education, and this last program fits very naturally in the broader curriculum of sex education.

More recently, an internet site ( has been set up, where young people and children can ask questions around the clock on an anonymous basis. A second project undertaken with the local Action Innocence association aims at protecting children from sexual abusers prowling on internet who frequently introduce themselves into children’s chat groups. It is more difficult to measure the impact of this latter project.

Dr. Bouvier’s service has also set up a “first audition” group which auditions in a most competent manner children who say they have been victims of abuse. These auditions are taped.

Josiane George, President of C.T.A.S., presented the important approach of her Association in the passage from primary to secondary prevention. Her Association works with victims to avoid that they stay isolated in their silence and fear. An activity of abuse prevention with adolescents is now being undertaken which has been neglected until now and which led to an increase in psychosomatic disorders, risks of suicide and school failure. Since the creation of an information campaign conceived by C.T.A.S., there are many demands for help which is proof of an unfulfilled demand in this area.

A therapy group using children’s stories has proved very successful in enabling children to express feelings of anger, guilt, etc. which they cannot always express directly when reporting abuse of which they have been victims. In Switzerland (7,2 million inhabitants) between 1990 and 1999 there were 7317 condemnations of sexual abuse, of which 4412 involved children. In Geneva, in 2001, 304 abuses were reported, of which 68 were against children. These are only reported cases – the real figure is certainly much higher.

A new program aims at adolescents who are themselves abusers, so as to avoid this group committing much more serious abuses later on. It is estimated that 60-80 per cent of adult abusers already started when they themselves were teenagers. This new program of the C.T.A.S has two main emphases:
• becoming responsible: acknowledging what one has done, assuming full responsibility, identifying factors that could lead to repeating the offence, setting up a prevention plan;
• developing social competence, improving knowledge in the field of sex, and a better mastery of sexual impulses.

Doris Dillmann, Social Worker, shared her new book entitled “« Traverser l’abus sexuel ? Réponses et sources d’espoir ».

Anne-Françoise Comte-Fontana is President of the State Court system for youth and believes that penal statistics do not reflect reality, as numerous victims never speak out due to a deep feeling of shame. For many years, MD’s were the only ones to hear of such abuses, and the secrecy to which doctors are subjected to enabled children to open their hearts and speak. She insisted that in her opinion the number of abuses was not increasing, simply that people felt much freer now to speak about them. Prevention, she stressed, starts with information.

Mrs. Comte-Fontana acknowledged that with each new case, she feels the possibility of making mistakes, so great are the risks of error due to the great complexity of circumstances in this field. Participants were spell-bound as she narrated the story of a young girl who had accused her father, a highly respected citizen, of incest. The police had repeated the girl’s accusations to the parents (something that is now forbidden). So the mother, out of solidarity with her husband, immediately sided with him! The parents invented all sorts of alibis for times when the abuses had taken place, with the result that the girl retracted her accusations. However, Mrs. Comte-Fontana decided to nevertheless pursue the father, and thanks to the outstanding judge who presided over the case, the truth finally came out and the father was finally condemned to five years in prison, despite appeals which went right to the Supreme Court of Switzerland.

The activity of those who work at the court for juvenile offenders is frequently multidisciplinary. Penal law has an educational vocation, especially in relation to youth offenders. As for the penal procedure, its aim is not only to attribute punishment to offenders, but also to enable the accused to become aware of the gravity of their actions.

Christiane Linnér of UNHCR added a welcome international dimension to the round table. She reminded the audience that out of a total of 20 million refugees in the world, 8 million are children or young people below the age of 18 (more than the total population of Switzerland)! Refugee children are especially exposed to sexual abuse, above all girls. On one hand this is due to the complete disintegration of social, tribal and family structures due to war or any other causes forcing the refugees to flee. On the other hand, they are frequently living in foreign countries, in the context of emergency structures. In such situations, girls easily become victims of members of their own family, the police, military or even the personnel of NGOs.

Mrs. Linnér felt it necessary to stress the extremely negative role played by the international press in the recent accusations (early 2002 directed against UNHCR personnel). The media completely distorted an internal report and especially made totally displaced generalisations which not only harmed the UNHCR, but also various international NGO’s.

What prevention measures can be taken concerning refugees? The first one is to inform refugees of their rights: one should never offer one’s body in exchange for food aid. It would also be important that there exist in schools completely trustworthy personnel – preferably women - to whom the children feel they can confide themselves. (A girl will speak much more easily to a woman, especially in Third World countries).

The UNHCR is also drawing up a detailed Code of Conduct for its personnel – and guidelines for various situations arising in refugee camps, e.g.: what to do if a family wants to marry a 13 year old daughter? [Note by the rapporteur: among the Fulani of West Africa, until very recently, girls as young as 11-12 were married, and the practice has probably not entirely disappeared].

It is also important to stress the quality of resilience that exist in a community. One example would be family solidarity which is still very much alive in many cultures. Finally, training is important. This is one of the rare fields where refugees can be competitive: they have lost everything on a material level, but they still have their competence, specific abilities and know-how.

Latifa Bénari is president of the Ange Bleu (Blue Angel) association. Algerian born in Morocco, she added a unique and highly original note to the round table dialogue. As a child, she was sexually abused by a trusted employee from the age of 5 to 14. Having managed after nine years of abuse to end the nightmare, she herself started thinking about the whole issue of sexual abuse in her close environment as of 16, started becoming active in this field on an individual basis.

In 1976, she came to France, and continued her one to one work until she was requested to help solve a very serious problem in this area in her daughter’s school. She was so successful that the school authorities and others encouraged her to extend her activity which led her to create her association l’Ange Bleu, in 1998. This association which is unique in France undertakes preventive action among would-be paedophiles – those Mrs. Bénari calls the abstinent and passive paedophiles, men who have not yet committed any overt acts of sexual abuse, but who feel less and less capable of controlling their impulses. A 100 per cent self-taught expert, her services are requested with growing frequency by public authorities and services, (police, courts, schools…) and other organisations, which are often at a complete loss when faced with this issue.

The main activity of l’Ange Bleu is a patient work of listening to passive paedophiles, via either the telephone or the internet site of the association ( Latifa Bénari admits openly that some of the best suggestions she has received as to how to handle paedophiles come from her clients themselves.

Having been accused of being to accommodating with paedophiles, she finally decided to write a book that will be appearing in French in December 2002: La fin d’un silence: paedophilie, une approche différente. (The End of Silence: a new approach to paedophilia).

Dr. Philippe Jaffé, a psychologist, latched on to what Latifa Bénari had shared, saying that it was one of the rare original, positive and practical approaches he had heard of, and which appeared to be efficient. He believes that to-date prevention has not been very efficient, and that by and large we had failed up till now in preventing child abuse. We have become aware of the suffering of the victims, but this by no means constitutes prevention. Paedophiles are imprisoned – but where is prevention in all this? Prevention must intervene before paedophiles start abusing. Information can help but it is not enough. We need to rethink the tools to prevent abusers to act.

Dr. Jaffé feels that we have given too much information to the children. We have taught them to undertake their own prevention, instead of intervening at that point before abusers commit an offence.

The associations that exist to-date are groups involved in expressing indignation and handing out information, but their preventive impact is minimal, he feels.

We need to find new approaches:
• go beyond the simplistic and accusatory attitudes toward paedophiles and start intervening on the level of adolescents who have already committed abuses. We need to find new alert signals before abuse occurs;

• better train professionals in the field of public health to face this issue, and also set up structures which can handle emergency calls in this area, so that individuals or families faced with a major crisis do not need to wait for weeks before seeing a professional;

• the need for institutions in the field of child care to rethink their roles and the need for greater courage to intervene. These institutions lack multidisciplinary teams capable of investigating problems/cases.

In Geneva, anonymous denunciations are no longer authorised, which creates new problems, as the number of cases of abuse denounced is sure to decrease. And let us not forget sex tourism. Who knows – maybe the Swiss “sex tourists” do much more harm in Third World countries than all the abusers of Switzerland combined!

Dr. Jaffé feels it important to debunk a widespread myth, i.e. that most abusers have themselves been abused when young (the figure of 90% of abusers who have been abused is widely quoted). This is completely erroneous. To- date, it is estimated that a maximum of 20 per cent of the abusers have themselves been abused. If the first figure were true, then there would be many more women abusers, as they are by far the first to be abused when young. However, this is not the fact.

Dr. Jaffé concludes by sharing a dream: that one day there exists a service/institution where people in emergency situations can either be received immediately or be visited immediately in their homes.

A very active debate followed the presentations and questions from journalists were answered.

Different newspapers (La Tribune de Genève, Le Courrier, Le Matin) carried articles on the World Day and reported on the Round Table debate. Reports from the 500 NGOs that marked the World Day will be compiled in a global report and posted on the Internet (

Pierre Pradervand, Moderator

World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse - 19 November
c/o Women's World Summit Foundation WWSF
P.O.Box 143, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Tel: +41-022-738.66.19 Email:

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Coalition Impact 2002

Activities and events organized by international NGO coalition members


I - Introduction

  • Message from the Women's World Summit Foundation
  • Why a World Day for Prevention Child Abuse?
  • List of international coalition members
  • Open letter to coalition members and partners

Chapter I and II
(570 Ko)

II - Geneva activity organized by WWSF

  • Round Table Program
  • Round Table Report

III - Global activities organized by coalition members

  • Eastern and Southern Africa
  • West and Central Africa
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • South Asia
  • East Asia and Pacific
  • The Americas and the Caribbean
  • Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic States

Chapter III
(440 Ko)

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Photo Gallery

Italy, Georgia and Guinea

India, Mexico and Nicaragua

Peru, Uruguay and Chile

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