The Tunisia portal is one of the latest portals launched in 2021 by the IWF, in partnership with the Ministère de la Femme, de la Famille et des Personnes Âgées (Ministry of Women, Family and the Elderly), the Council of Europe, the Programme Sud IV and UNICEF Tunisia.[*] The portal was the 29th to have been sponsored by the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children.
All partners helped to raise awareness of the newly launched portal amongst institutional bodies and the general population in Tunisia. A week after the launch, the portal had already received two reports from the public, confirmed as containing child sexual abuse material. Reporting images and videos of child sexual abuse does not only help to make the internet safer for all users, but also prevents the re-victimisation of survivors of abuse, as each report is assessed, and all confirmed criminal imagery is blocked and removed from the internet.
The portal is part of the efforts from the Tunisian Ministry of Women, Family and the Elderly to make children safer off and online.
This initiative is also a way to implement concrete solutions to ensure the protection of children against sexual abuse. The Council of Europe created the first instrument criminalising the sexual abuse of children, the Convention for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse – or Lanzarote Convention –, which states that nations ratifying it agree to “criminalise sexual activity with children, child prostitution and pornography.” The Convention sets out several measures to prevent child sexual exploitation and abuse and to act once such abuse takes place. Having a mechanism to report images and videos of child sexual abuse online, such as a reporting portal, is one of the ways the ratifying countries, to which Tunisia is a part, can uphold the Convention.
This portal would not have been developed without the financial support of the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, which fully funded 30 portals in order to offer this tech solution at no cost to the host nation.
The success of the Tunisian portal rests on the multi-institutional collaboration, involving the government, international institutions, and non-profit organisations, which enabled the new tool to be well-known and used by the public. The last key piece of the puzzle is the contribution from the internet and telecommunications industries, for example, our Members, who actively support our work.
[*] The South Programme IV is a joint programme between the Council of Europe and the EU entitled “Regional Support to Reinforce Human rights, Rule of Law and Democracy in the Southern Mediterranean", co-funded by the two organisations and implemented by the Council of Europe.