Child Protection

Fighting the Sexual Exploitation of Children

The sexual exploitation of children is a global phenomenon of extreme importance. As in other countries, children in Madagascar continue to be the victims of various forms of exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation of girls is a significant problem.

It is estimated that about 3,000 children are sexually exploited per year in Madagascar (ODEROI, 2008 [1]). This is a very complex issue with multiple causes. Ambatovy is committed to contributing whatever it can to prevent and combat this scourge. Ambatovy supports ten networks of child protection along the National Route 2 for the provision of adequate care and services to victims of violence.

Zero-Tolerance Policy

To address such issues as prostitution and child exploitation, Ambatovy has implemented a zero-tolerance Code of Conduct for all its workers, which includes, but is not limited to, child exploitation. Adherence to the code is mandatory for all national and expatriate staff. A taskforce has been set up to monitor the implementation of this policy, which includes specific reporting and whistle-blowing mechanisms. Any misconduct will result in immediate sanctions.

A number of local and international organizations, including UNICEF, are providing technical support to Ambatovy on its child protection policy and its awareness campaigns.

Awareness Campaigns

Awareness programs are aimed at both employees and sub-contractors. All new employees must go through the details of the Code of Conduct during their induction session. Thousands of leaflets and posters have also been widely distributed to employees and sub-contractors.

Partnering with Communities

Child sexual exploitation is a complicated phenomenon that must be tackled through the involvement of a range of stakeholders across all levels. Ambatovy works closely with existing local child protection networks and well-known organizations to promote wider awareness of and respect for child rights. Youth peer educators are being given life-skills training to enable them to hold information sessions with adolescents on the ways to say “NO!”.

Ambatovy, in collaboration with a United Nations agency and a local NGO, installed 10 youth kiosks to provide safe spaces for youth to meet, discuss issues pertaining to their health, and play games. These kiosks serve as a meeting area for young people and a place of idea exchange; they are equipped with supplies, latrines, and sports fields. 20 trained peer educators man the kiosks to support the local youth.

ODEROI – Observatoire des Droits de l’Enfant de la Région de l’Océan Indien – The Indian Ocean Child Rights Observatory, set up to strengthen regional and national monitoring of child rights through appropriate research, advocacy, networking, and information exchange.