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Sexual abuse

Affording children and young people better protection

The German government intends to continue its committed fight against sexual abuse and sexual violence against children and young people. As part of these efforts it has made the office of the Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues permanent.

A child's hand can be seen through the frosted glass of a door The government's goal is to ensure permanent engagement against sexual violence Photo: Getty Images/Alfonso Cacciola

To better protect children and young people, the Cabinet has decided to make the office of the Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues permanent, along with the council of victims, which operates on a voluntary basis. The Cabinet has also extended until the end of 2023 the mandate of the independent commission to investigate child sexual abuse appointed in 2016.

The office of the Commissioner

The office of the Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues and the Round Table for Child Sexual Abuse were established in 2010 by the German government, in response to the large number of cases of sexual abuse that became known then, within educational facilities and institutions. The first Independent Commissioner was the former Federal Minister for Family Affairs Christine Bergmann. She was succeeded in December 2011 by Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig.

The Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues is independent and does not take instructions from a higher level. In organisational terms alone it is attached to the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The staff of the task force of the Independent Commissioner are experienced in the fields of law, psychology, education, politics and history, communication and administration. The responsibilities of the Commissioner can be broken down into three areas: assistance for victims, appraisal of cases of sexual abuse of children in Germany, and prevention.

Strong, lasting engagement

Since the establishment of the Commissioner for Abuse in 2010 much has been achieved: awareness within creches, nurseries, schools, churches and sports clubs has been raised, a fund has been established, a telephone helpline launched, a council of victims established along with an investigative committee, time-bars extended and criminal law tightened. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done.

The decision of the Cabinet has put in place important structures that will ensure strong, lasting engagement at national level against sexual violence, thus translating into practice an important project laid out in the coalition agreement.

Dec 12, 2018