(Det talade ordet gäller)
Ladies and Gentlemen
Every time a child becomes a victim of sexual abuse, is a failure; our failure.
Every child’s right to protection is the responsibility of us adults. But still – we keep failing.
More than 20 years ago, I founded the World Childhood Foundation to fight child sexual abuse. To prevent it from happening, and to help children who have suffered abuse to heal again.
At that time, in the 1990’s, child sexual abuse was hardly on the public agenda. It was a problem that no one dared to speak about – and whose victims no-one wanted to see.
I decided then to do what I could to shed a light in these dark corners of humanity. And to always stand up for every child’s right to a childhood.
In recent years, much seems to be getting worse. Technology and connectivity have increased and added new forms of online abuse. The pandemic that now holds the world in a firm grip, leaves children isolated in unsafe settings, deprived of their protective routines.
But there is also another side to it: As more of us speak about child sexual abuse and as more victims find the courage to come forward, stigma and shame are slowly but surely starting to crumble.
I am a great admirer of today’s key note speaker, the reverend Dr. Dennis Mukwege’s courageous work and leadership. In 2018, we met at the Royal Palace in Stockholm in connection with the Nobel Prize ceremonies. As Dr. Mukwege accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he said:
“Turning a blind eye is being complicit.”
I think about those words often.
Silence protects no one but the perpetrator. That is why we must break the silence; to relieve the child from the burden of shame; a burden that was never theirs to hold.
Even more importantly, we must listen. Listen to the children who find the courage to speak up. Trust them. Believe them. That is our responsibility.
Today’s meeting is an important and positive step and I want to thank all of you for participating. A virtual room full of inspirational leaders, all with the same aim of keeping children safe: This gives me hope.
The voice of faith-based leaders is extremely important. It reaches local communities in many parts of the world. It stands for guidance, hope and continuity.
Religion can and shall offer a place of trust and safety. It should be a safe space, where children are listened to and are met with love, respect and the possibility to heal.
Together we must do everything we can to protect children. And when we fail to prevent these vicious crimes, every child that is abused must be given the chance to heal again – physically and mentally. And to restore their faith in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I hope we can work for together.