Child Focus campaign reenacting rape of 8-year old girl draws criticism from victims association

Child Focus campaign reenacting rape of 8-year old girl draws criticism from victims association
Child Focus apologised to victims of child abuse for its shock campaign. Credit: Child Focus

An association of victims of incest and sexual abuse has filed a complaint with the Jury of Advertising Ethics (JEP) against a Child Focus shock campaign.

The movie is an explicit reconstruction, by adult actors, of a video of sexual abuse of an 8-year-old girl that Child Focus received. The campaign was created for the European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Abuse on 18 November. Child Focus has placed the entire reenactment of the video, which contains graphic images, on the campaign page

The campaign, however, was not well received by families of victims, reports Het Nieuwsblad and Het Belang van Limburg on Wednesday.

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The Flemish association IMLandelijk wants to put an end to it and has lodged a complaint with the JEP. "We are reacting strongly for several reasons," the spokesperson said. "First of all, because we received reactions from shocked and traumatized victims. The images broadcast are painful for those people who have had a similar experience."

The association also believes that such depiction of child pornography images should not be so easily accessible, especially for minors. Finally, she fears that this video will ultimately offer paedophiles what they want to see.

Child Focus has spoken out to say it understands this reaction. "We have already been contacted by victims for whom the images were very shocking. We understand that. We want to talk to them so that we can explain our intentions to them," said Director Heidi De Pauw. She added that other victims, on the other hand, had called for a tough campaign to shake up decision-makers.

With the video, Child Focus hopes to shock policymakers into action as well as create more awareness for the topic among the general public, urging them to report images of child pornography on the website, the organisation stated on their website.

In 2018, Child Focus received 1,728 reports of images of child pornography, which is an increase of 136% compared to 2017. Additionally, the Federal Police received about 18.000 reports of child pornography images from the tech industry, of which 42% was officially labelled as sexual abuse, reports De Morgen.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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