Sexual violence against children

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There are many different definitions of sexual violence against children. The Dutch National Rapporteur utilises a broad definition which includes all sexual crimes in the Dutch Criminal Code that could be applicable to underage victims. This could for example mean child pornography, rape, sexual assault, lewd conduct, youth prostitution, seduction or grooming. What these sexual crimes have in common is that they encompass penal sexual behaviour towards minors.

Dependency relationship

In cases of sexual violence against children there is often a dependent relation between the perpetrator and the underage victim, for example in cases of incest or abuse in a youth care institution. In these situations, sexual violence against children is a form of child abuse. Among children or young persons there are also instances of sexual violence and these cases may equally constitute transgressing behaviour that should be punished as sexual violence against children. The Dutch National Rapporteur does not include verbal sexual intimidation or genital mutilation in the category of sexual violence against children.

Hands-on and hands-off

The broad definition of sexual violence against children includes both hands-on and hands-off abuse. Hands-on abuse requires physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim. Examples are rape, sexual assault and the production of child pornography. Hands-off abuse involves not physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim, examples being watching child pornography or exhibiting sexual acts to persons below sixteen years old (sexual corruption). It should be noted that hands-off abuse often does maintain and induce actual physical sexual violence.

Digital and physical world

Sexual violence against children may occur both in the digital and in the physical world. Child pornography has an obvious digital element when it is distributed through the internet. However, the abuse required to create child sexual abuse images takes place in the physical or analogue world. For an elaborate description of the distinction between digital and analogue, as well as hands-on and hands-off violence, see the First Report of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Child Pornography starting at page 41.

Right to protection

Children have a right to protection from sexual violence. Initially through prevention, and where violence has already occurred, by putting an end to it as well as providing victim assistance. The responsibility to offer children that protection lies with the authorities. The Rapporteur monitors their approach towards all the different forms of sexual violence against children.

Other types of sexual violence against children