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The Sun is Rising, The Dawn is coming

Within a few hours, the year 2020 will be ended. For many, this year probably was a very difficult one. It was determined by the Covid-19 pandemic which may have caused you moments of sadness, fear or even anger.  We were limited in doing things we normally like doing. Even meeting our loved ones during Easter and Christmas was a challenge for many this year. Such limitations can give us a feeling that we are living in a dark days.  But even during these times Christmas still exists, although we celebrated it differently this year. We still were reminded of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in a humble stable in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph were taken away from their loved ones and had to go to that city. And when they arrived to Bethlehem, there was no place for Mary to give birth at, and there were no family or loved ones to welcome the baby. Perhaps a few animals in the stable. How lonely this couple could have felt? Nevertheless, God brought shepherds and wise men to com
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Sharp Rise in the Violence against Women. What Can We Do?

Last week we marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Globally, 1 in 3 women experiences abuse or violence in her lifetime, and that is true for Europe as well. Looking at the statistics, the situation is worrying. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, figures indicate a sharp rise in domestic violence and in sexual abuse and exploitation. In Romania, Aurora Martin from the National Agency for Equal Opportunities between women and men, invited me as a keynote speaker in two important virtual events. One event was a workshop on “Gender Equality: Opportunities and Challenges”, part of a larger anniversary event of the Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University. The second event was focused on “Women’s Safety in Public and Private Spaces”, organized by the Romanian Institute for Human Rights and the National Agency for Equal Opportunities between women and men. Below you will find my contribution to the two events, as well as a list of recommendations to facil

Growing Concerns About Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children. Action Needed Now

  Today is the European Day on the Protectionof Children   against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, an initiative by the Council of Europe. This year’s European Day focuses on preventing risky behaviour by children through child self-generated sexual images and/or videos. The COVID crisis has unfortunately exacerbated the problem of child sexual abuse, as the "EU Strategy for a Most Effective Fight Against Child Sex Abuse" highlighted.   Children are spending more time than before online, possibly unsupervised. While this has allowed them to continue their studies and not fall behind in the education process, there are signs that they are at an increased risk of encountering predators.   Actions to address these problems are therefore needed. To that end, on the 9th of December, ECPM Member of the European Parliament Helmut Geuking , as co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Demographic Challenges, Family-Work Balance and Youth Transitions, will organize

The Consequences of COVID Pandemic and Reintegration of Human Trafficking Survivors

In the framework of the European Anti-Trafficking Day, I was invited as a speaker to a large online conference on "Combating Human Trafficking - a Continued Struggle, adapted to the new context generated by the COVID-19 Pandemic". This conference was organized by the Parliamentary Group for the Fight Against Human Trafficking in the Romanian Parliament. See here my presentation: Some of the other speakers were : Angel TÎLVĂR , coordinator of the Parliamentary Group for the Fight against human trafficking, Valiant RICHEY, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Bogdan DESPESCU , Secretary of State, Police Chief-Quaestor of Police, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Cornel FERUȚĂ , Secretary of State for Global Affairs and Diplomatic Strategies Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cristina-Ionela IURIŞNIŢI , Chair of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Olivier ONIDI , EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator, Gabriela SCUTEA , Pr

Strong Support for Law Protecting Pregnant Women in Slovakia

Despite opposition from activists pro-choice organisations, the new law proposal has drawn a large positive attention worldwide. In total, 135 international organisations and 33 Slovakian organisations have signed a letter of support for the Slovakian legislative initiative that aims to strengthen the protection of pregnant women. This law has been initiated by a team of 13 Deputies from O’Lano and the Krestanska Unia (Christian Union). You can find a summary of this law here   The signatories come not only from many European countries, but also from Latin America and Africa; it is remarkable the support coming from all over the world. The full text of the letter is as follows: To whom it may concern We, the undersigned NGOs, are writing to ask the Members of the Slovak Parliament to support the Draft Law which Amends and Supplements Act No. 576/2004 Coll. of Laws on Healthcare, Healthcare-related Services. The protection of life, health and human dignity which this law aim

New Law Proposal strengthens the Freedom to Choose in Slovakia

W omen who are unintentionally getting pregnant can face a lot of pressure to terminate their pregnancy. There can be economic pressure in providing for the child, but also pressure from partner, family or teachers. A new law is being voted in Slovakia this week which updates the current legislative framework, the main goal being to help women make informed choices and to increase support for them. This law has been initiated by Member of Parliament Anna Záborská (Christian Union, Slovakia). In order to reduce the economic pressure on pregnant women, the law proposes the following: Possibility to obtain financial support after the 4 th month of pregnancy to cover for increased expenses due to the pregnancy. Governmental financial help from childbirth, with no administrative barriers (until now the child had to be alive at least 28 days after birth to be eligible for financial support). The law is also proposing to extend financial aid to all children born in Slovakia. The financia

Lessons Learned from the Belarussian Protestors

The protests in Belarus are impressive. Usually, when protests happen, people tend to become agitated and get angry and violent. Property gets destroyed. Sometimes even, authorities play a role in instigating them. But not in #Belarus. Although the police has been using excessive force against protesters, and there are evidences of the torture of protestors in prison, the people of Belarus remained calm, but determined. Especially brave, since public gatherings have been banned in Belarus since 2011. It is also admirable the care people take of public property, even picking up garbage after the protests. The second thing worth noting is that all these people contesting the results of the latest presidential elections did not give into the pressure to lean one way or another. They are not protesting for the West or against Russia; it hasn’t become politicized. There aren’t any EU flags at the protests after the elections (very different from Ukraine a few years ago); they are carryi