Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden spoke to CNN’s Amara Walker while in New York City last month to participate in the World Childhood Foundation’s high-level meetings at the United Nations regarding ending child violence. Her daughter, Princess Madeleine also attended.
CNN reported that over 200 million children worldwide are sexually abused or exploited. It is also one of the biggest causes of adult mental health issues and substance abuse problems. Additionally, 10 million children are enslaved around the world, this according to the International Labour Organisation in a recent report.
Back in October, Princess Madeleine said, “We are very committed to giving children freedom from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.” The Queen spoke of this commitment and what made her decide to promote children’s rights.
The meetings at the United Nations included world leaders passionate about the “difficult issue,” and regarding this, Her Majesty said, “I am very happy to see that everybody now wants to reach hands and work to protect the children when it comes to violence, sexual abuse, and all sorts of violence…It was wonderful to see today at the meeting that there were so many [people] from different countries.”
Walker asked what spurred the Queen to create her foundation to which Her Majesty explained that it went back twenty years when there was a case in Sweden regarding child pornography material, which she said was shocking and that the Swedish people did not truly know that it was part of the reality. Sweden then took action and hosted the World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm in 1996 with 122 governments participating.
After the meeting in 1996, Her Majesty asked herself “What can I do in my position? What can I do to help children?” And so, the World Childhood Foundation was born. She said she was “very happy” to draw attention to this “very difficult issue.” She first wanted to help children on the streets but soon understood that “sexual abuse was something that nobody wanted to talk about. You can’t change anything if you don’t talk about it.”
The Queen is happy and proud that the foundation is now in four countries with close to 100 projects per year going on in these countries to help children. The projects are specific to each nation and the problems they are facing. Queen Silvia cited an ongoing 10-year project in Brazil where over 4,000 transportations companies and over one million lorry drivers work with Childhood. They attend workshops with the foundation about children’s rights and keep a “special eye on their colleagues, and they are helping.” Her Majesty said the cases of child sexual exploitation in the country have now diminished significantly, but they are continuing to work to end it altogether.
Queen Silvia founded the World Childhood Foundation in 1999, and it now has offices in Brazil, Germany, Sweden and the United States.