Advocacy statements

Sexual violence in Calais refugee camp

  • Date / 2016
  • Location / France
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights


International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 31th Session (29th February – 24th March 2016)

ID with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children

We would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary General for her report on violence against children.

Such a report could not come at a more urgent time, with children being exposed to appalling levels of violence across the world – much of it well-known, yet well-ignored. Just a few days ago it was reported that a migrant boy was raped in the Calais refugee camp. Medical volunteers say they have treated seven boys aged between 14 and 16 in the past six months there. In four cases, the boys required surgery[1].

There are reportedly around 400 unaccompanied children in Calais. That is, 400 vulnerable children alone, and at high risk of sexual exploitation living on EU soil, their location and situation known by the authorities.

Also in Europe, we recently heard that the Vatican guide on how to deal with sexual violence against children advised that it is ‘not necessarily’ a bishop’s duty to report suspects of child abuse to the police[2]. This, despite the Holy See being a signatory of the CRC, and in 2014 the UN’s child rights committee’s forcefully taking it to account in response to extensive violence against children.

As the Special Representative’s report notes, a genuine tackling of the root causes of violence against children is overdue, but a culture of respect for children’s rights and of zero tolerance will never be achieved if there are states so openly flouting their international obligations, with no repercussions.

It is incumbent on this Council to lead the way in dealing with violence against children and help ensure that the elimination of all forms of violence against children, as a distinct priority in the Sustainable Development Goals, is realised.

The protection of the vulnerable is a mark of a society’s civilisation. Currently, it’s not clear just how civilised we are.


[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/calais-jungle-refugee-children-being-raped-in-camp-aid-workers-claim-a6912711.html

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/10/catholic-bishops-not-obliged-report-clerical-child-abuse-vatican-says

Suggested academic reference

'Sexual violence in Calais refugee camp', Humanists International

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