Interfaith Alliance | 19-20 November 2018 | Abu Dhabi, UAE
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Faith Leaders Discuss Ways to Prevent Child Sex Abuse

November 20 2018

The first panel of the day featured Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Hindu Spiritual leader; His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of France; The Right Reverend Bishop Julio Murray, Anglican Archbishop of Central America and H.E. Ambassador Dr. Yusuf Abdulrahman Nzibo, Chairman, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.

Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, also known as Amma, emphasised that childhood is a time of joy and innocence, and that the sexual abuse of children is like tearing open a flower bud. She added that sexual abuse can happen at home, work, or any other place, hence people constantly feel afraid that their privacy gets invaded.

Very bad consequences arise from child sexual abuse. These include severe depression, psychological trauma, difficulty in studying, and being unable to live an independent life.

Amma said that the famous three monkey emoji’s are commonly used on social media. The first with his eyes covered, the second with his ears covered, while the third with his mouth covered. These should symbolise ‘see no-evil’, ‘hear no-evil’, and ‘speak no-evil’. We should also have a new monkey emoji with his mobile covered. This doesn’t mean that technology is bad, but we have to use it with care in order to avoid fateful consequences. 

The world is becoming ever more fast-paced. Mothers should give more time for their children. They should constantly ask their children: Who did you play with? Who did you talk to? Children should feel free to open up to their mothers and tell them everything.

Amma proposed a question: If our laws and enforcement agencies are effective, then why is sexual exploitation increasing at such an alarming rate?

People have to have self-control and see divinity within everyone, as we are all God’s creations. Moreover, compassion is the core principal of spirituality. Compassion is inherent within every individual and it makes us respect human beings.


His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel added that technology has its pros and cons. There are very positive changes; however we face a darker side as well. The most vulnerable members in society are being harmed by technology. More than half of the population uses the internet, and more than a quarter of internet users are children, which causes computer addiction. In addition to that, anonymity in the digital space lowers self-control and increases violence.

There is an urgent need to take concrete steps and actions to eradicate the crime of child exploitation which so badly damages the bodies and souls of children. Religions don’t have ready-made solutions, but they have fundamental moral and spiritual values that can be preserved in their tradition. Religions can contribute to deep understanding of human rights underscoring the concept of freedom. 

We need to express solidarity with those who are exploited, and pledge to care for those marginalised in society. Our inspiration is the belief that this world is a sacred gift from our creator.

Following on from Metropolitan Emmanuel’s speech, H.E Ambassador Dr. Yusuf Abdulrahman Nzibo acknowledged the need to reclaim and protect the dignity of the child. He added that it is important to understand the breakdown of family and community values.

As religious leaders, we need to accept that the dignity of the child needs to be protected. We need to talk openly not just in congregations, but with families etc.

It is important to empower families in order to understand the dangers that their children are being exposed to in the digital world. As religious leaders, we need to mobilise ourselves through faith dialogue and share knowledge in order to influence positive legislation and protect the dignity of a child.

By the end of the action plan, The Right Reverend Bishop Julio Murray listed some observations on child sex abuse. He started by saying that we live in a cyber culture, so as leaders in faith communities, we need to know and manage the dynamics of the digital world and know its risks and challenges. He added that the younger generations are facing a problem, which is loneliness, which makes them more susceptible to cyber bullying and grooming.

Families should take more time to listen to their children. Parents don’t only need to tell their children about values. Instead, they need to show them what values look like.

As religious leaders, we call on you to participate in the construction of relations on behalf of the marginalised children who fall victim to sexual abuse.

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