On the 31st of March 2018, the people of Mongolia stood together in protest against child abuse, with a focus on child molestation, rape, and sexual abuse, across 14 provinces and 9 countries. Over 30 000 people, 20 artists, 2 previous Olympic champions, and various other activist groups gathered together to peacefully protest and demand action to be taken on this issue. In the primary location of Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar, they gathered as part of a campaign to demand that Mongolia’s President and parliament act on the issue within a week. Prior to this protest, no attempts have been made to remedy the issue since November 2017.
N. Odgerel, one of the initiators of the protest, stated that, “A criminal who sexually abuses a young child should never be forgiven no matter what,” declaring her stance on the atrocity. However, President Khaltmaa Battulga may not be behind the lack of repercussion for child molesters. In 2017, President Battulga had urged for the death sentence to be reinstated for perpetrators of such crimes. He noted in his letter that,
Even though the death penalty is considered inhumane, sexually abusing an infant who has neither learned to walk on his or her own nor stopped breastfeeding is a serious and brutal abominable act that contradicts ethical principles of not only Mongolians, but the whole human race. The fact that crimes that go against the conscience, morality, culture, and customs of Mongolians are actually increasing indicates that it wasn’t the time for our country to abolish the death penalty just yet.
His proposal had been stunted by Ts. Nyamdorj’s, the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs, lack of response to the issue. The protesters demanded there be an end to the stalemate, calling for action and appropriate repercussions to be introduced.
This protest has shone a light on the staggering number of children who have been forced to endure sexual abuse. In 2017, those as young as 16-months old have been reported as part of the 298 children under seven years of age who have been sexually molested. To further the gravity of this issue, attention has been drawn to young girls aged 12 to 17, 1613 of which had given birth to children of unwanted pregnancies, while another 1668 girls under 20 years of age underwent abortions, as reported by the UB Post. Unfortunately, the number of victims has failed to decrease from previous years, despite policy changes in 2016 and further revisions made in 2017. The lack of progress was what urged President Battulga to voice his opinion and highlight his immense disapproval, reaffirming his stance against child sexual abuse.
The region has fallen victim to a plethora of predatory behaviours, ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence and child sexual abuse. The state is still in the process of developing and implementing new policies to combat these issues. Due to protests throughout the 2000s, both the government and NGOs have cooperated to combat the human trafficking issue, while raising awareness of the problem, and developing new policies to ensure legal ramifications for traffickers. These efforts reflect the positive results of what happens when people rise up against an issue together in order to combat human rights violations. The protests against child abuse in Mongolia symbolize the recognition of a serious problem and the start of a fight to end it.
Unfortunately, the stalemate on the issue of child sexual abuse has yet to be resolved, as President Battulga’s stance on the death penalty has not attained the approval of the other members of parliament. On the 30th of March, the Delegation of the EU to represent Mongolia participated in a review of the President’s proposal without any hint of progress being made. Deputy Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs B. Enkhbayar came forward to declare that, “Every organization in the task force concluded that there was no legal basis for restoring the death penalty.” Despite this, there have been no alternative options publicly proposed for the cause of combatting child abuse in Mongolia, and the issue remains at large.