Interfaith Alliance | 19-20 November 2018 | Abu Dhabi, UAE
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Faith Leaders Discuss Ways to Partner To Overcome The Online Abuse of Children

November 20 2018

The final session of the morning focused on the development of partnerships: partnerships between religious groups, partnerships between stakeholders, and partnerships that can overcome the online abuse of children. The conference first heard from Ani Choying Drolma, Buddhist Nun and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, who spoke powerfully from her own personal experience, and stated that in order to help solve the issues regarding sexual exploitation of children online, we must ensure that we surround children with love, compassion and kindness as this will nurture them and allow them to grow.

The session then heard from Bani Dugal, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the UN, who underlined the role of religion in helping to work against and tackle materialistic conceptions of the world, from which, she explained, symptoms of online child abuse occur. For her, religious groups of whatever faith had to assume a positon of moral leadership that highlighted the need for a fuller form of living which fostered the mental health of all of society. She concluded by stating her confidence of religious groups to undertake this task, and to engage local communities in such an endeavour for all.

Dr Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam of the All India Imam Organisation, then addressed the conference and stated that faiths from across the world had to work together to educate groups on the evils of child online sexual exploitation. Dr. Ilyasi spoke powerfully of the absence of family mechanisms to be able to solve such issues, and stated that he looked toward the intervention of religion to be able to quell such problems. He argued that it was only through an approach which embraced interfaith as its direction forward that we might be able to have a resolution to such issues.

The final speaker of the session was Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, who stated that the moral duty for all faiths was to do as much as possible to tackle online abuse, and ensure that no child was exposed to such evils. He emphasised that not one faith had an answer to these issues, and so it was only through working together that we might be able to protect children from these evils. He stated that this has to be a priority for all working in this field, and emphasised that the problems of each child was a challenge which each faith had to assume, to understand and to help to overcome.

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