UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children Maud de Boer-Buquicchio has released a user-friendly version of her 2018 report, entitled Playing it Safe.
The publication looks at a range of child rights violations – including trafficking, abuse, exploitation and sale - in the context of sports. While many findings of the report are disturbing, there are also encouraging examples of the ‘world of sport’ taking action to protect children and to remedy the harms that have already been done to them.
“From very young ages children take to a playing field, dive into a pool, tumble on a floor mat, run on a track … in pursuit of fun, fitness, companionship and comradery,” says de Boer-Buquicchio. “Whether the dream is big and life-changing, or simply the joy of everyday sport, the life of a child is forever altered if that child experiences sexual abuse or exploitation. Dreams are shattered, joy eroded, hearts and minds and bodies destroyed.”
According to de Boer-Buquicchio, the best interests of the child are crucial in guiding any sports programme. She is calling on States to ensure independent reporting and oversight mechanisms in order that complaints can be filed without fear of reprisal. She is urging them to ratify and put in place international laws that protect children, and to have clear and sweeping national laws that also provide the necessary protection.