Monday, 14 Dec 2015

Helping survivors of child sexual exploitation

Family for Every Child launches the RISE Learning Network, a unique global hub of organisations, involved in innovative and advanced work with children affected by sexual exploitation – in partnership with Retrak and the International Centre at the University of Bedfordshire and with funding from the OAK Foundation.


Child sexual exploitation is a global problem. As many as 2 million children are estimated to be sexually exploited around the world every year (UNICEF). But the true total of children affected by child sexual exploitation is likely to be millions more. Boys and girls are exploited through prostitution, online pornography, within communities and through the actions of family members. Most children will suffer the effects for the rest of their lives – but the vast majority of cases will go unreported.

This type of abuse is not limited to certain countries or social groups. Its widespread impact is devastating on children, with long term effects on their physical and mental health, education and training, family and social relationships, and work. They are often left stigmatised, ostracised, dysfunctional and isolated, which puts them at further risk of abuse and exploitation.

It’s a world-wide problem which demands a world-wide response.

I remember a little girl called Rani. When she was 9 she had been trafficked from Nepal and sold to a brothel in India. Every day she was forced to have sex with between 5 and 6 men. If she tried to refuse she was beaten, locked away and starved for days. Terrified and alone she was humiliated and exploited day after day for two years. She had been so traumatised by her experiences that when she was rescued she had completely lost her voice. It took eight years for Rani to begin to talk about her experiences and to be able to return to her family.” NGO worker, India

Together with Retrak, an international NGO working with children living on the street, and the International Centre at the University of Bedfordshire, we have initiated the RISE Learning Network, a unique global hub of organisations, involved in innovative and advanced work with children affected by sexual exploitation.

RISE stands for Recovery and (Re)Integration (R&R) following Child Sexual Exploitation.

Through this project, knowledge, practices and policies will be strengthened. Sensitive, effective and child focused services for children coping with the devastating experience of sexual exploitation will be developed and improved. Children and young people will voice their demands and concerns, so that they can both benefit from and engage in the improvements of services that support their successful family and community-based recovery and reintegration.We are joining forces with international partners so that children like Rani receive the help they need to cope with their experiences and begin to build a more positive future.

We are going to be giving a voice to children who have remained hidden from society. We will be enabling them to not only receive the best support they need so that they can reunite with their families and communities, if they choose to, but also to ensure that they are able to participate in all decisions about their own care and future.

The project will connect with a wide range of practitioners and policy makers working specifically with children affected by sexual exploitation and also those working on other forms of abuse, exploitation and violence against children, and other initiatives advancing learning, practice and policy on children’s integration. Through RISE they will be able to engage the children they work with so that the way they are supported is improved, as are the services they provide in the future.

Among members of Family for Every Child, CINDI (South Africa), Undugu Society of Kenya, ABTH (Brazil), Projeto Legal (Brazil), Taller de Vida (Colombia) and Butterflies (India) work every day with children who have been sexually exploited. The combined depth and breadth of their knowledge and expertise, plus that of other members and partners worldwide, will provide an unprecedented resource for improving how these very vulnerable children and young people are supported via the RISE Learning Network.

The RISE Learning Network will be advised by a global reference group of experts and based on three regional learning hubs – Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Central Asia. Each hub will have its own regional working group.

RISE is supported by a grant from Oak Foundation.

To participate in the RISE Learning Network:

please visit:

or contact the project coordinator