First Lady announces 'Cairo Declaration' against child exploitation

Yasmine Saleh
6 Min Read

CAIRO: Under a new Cairo Declaration, Egypt has officially joined the global battle against child exploitation, calling for new legislation, the revision of current laws involving children and initiating a global movement to protect children.

On Thursday, Egypt’s First Lady Suzanne Mubarak joined the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) to issue the Declaration.

The declaration calls for “expanding efforts to build new national and regional centers around the world to better address the problems of child abduction and exploitation.

It also calls for exploring “bilateral and multilateral approaches to resolving family disputes in order to ensure that children are not the victims of their parents’ bad decisions, their surroundings or circumstances.

The ICMEC honorary board also urged international leaders and organizations to join forces and act together to make the issue of child abuse a high priority, launch a global awareness campaign and develop new techniques and technologies to secure more protection for children.

“Regardless of time, effort and resource constrains, missing and exploited children should remain a top priority, Mubarak said. “Egypt has taken many positive steps in that regard.

However, “much more still needs to be done, Mubarak added, promising to use all the resources available to tackle the problem of child abuse and exploitation “more effectively.

Mubarak announced the declaration in a press conference she hosted under the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement, over which she presides, in partnership with the ICMEC.

Ernie Allen, president and chief executive officer of the ICMEC, an international leading private, non-governmental organization, spoke about child abduction and exploitation in around 17 countries. He said that Egypt has taken strides in fighting child exploitation.

Egypt has achieved some outstanding developments in fighting child pornography and abuse, he added.

However, Allen told Daily News Egypt that Egypt, like most countries, does not have “adequate statistics about child pornography.

“We say that child pornography has become a multi-billion dollar business, yet you do not know how many billions we are talking about. It can be 2 billion, 5 billion or 50 billion, he said.

However, Allen said the ICMEC is working on “building data to create a solid statistical reference.

In its war on child pornography and exploitation, ICMEC organized a special training program on cyber crimes given by experts to police officers in 113 countries, including Egypt.

“We started those trainings a few years ago in Cairo in partnership with the international Interpol. Currently we have 3,200 police experts in Egypt and other countries who had participated in those trainings, Allen said.

According to Allen, those trainings are given to enhance the police officers’ awareness of cyber crimes because although most of them can be professional in regular crimes, they might not be qualified to work on cyber crimes which need a different type of experience.

Allen says that the target is “to create a caliber of experts who are especially trained, and equipped to deal with that type of crime.

On the other hand, he explained that according to his long experience in the field of child abuse, the percentage of crimes related to child pornography and sexual exploitation “is less in countries whose citizens have strong religious beliefs.

“But all countries should fear that and know that problems might occur to them because the internet is everywhere, Allen said, indicating that child pornography and exploitation can take place anywhere through the internet which makes all countries vulnerable to them.

Ahmed Rashad, co-leader of the Net Aman team in the Cyber Peace Initiative, which works under the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement, told Daily News Egypt that he believes in educating the young generation despite the social and educational deterioration of younger generations today.

“We are not curing the problem, we are preventing it, Rashad said. “Those young children carry amongst them the leaders of our future.

Rashad’s Net Aman project had conducted many training sessions and workshops about means to proper and safe usage of the internet throughout Egypt’s different governorates. The trainings involved thousands of school children, teachers and parents.

Rashad, a 20-something IT engineer in a leading multinational telecom corporation, said that his passion for his career is what led him to divert his voluntary work to this sector.

Ambassador Moushira Khattab, general secretary of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, attended the conference, joining IT experts and members of the Cyber Peace Initiative.

Allen introduced some of the honorary board members of the ICMEC who attended the event.

The ICMEC honorary board included, in addition to Allen and Mubarak, Margarida Sousa Uva Barroso, wife of the President of the European Commission, Bernadette Chirac, Former First Lady of France, the Honorable Valentina Matvienko, Governor of St. Petersburg, Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco, H.M. Paola, Queen of the Belgians, Her Highness Sheikha Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of His Majesty the King of Bahrain.

The ICMEC honorary members also includes H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, Laura Bush, former first lady of the US, and Lyudmila Putin, former first lady of Russia, however they did not attend the event.

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