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President and Co-Founder, Beyond Borders/ECPAT Canada

By: Alison Palkhivala

Rosalind Prober was horrified to learn how easily sexual offenders against children can avoid criminal punishment in many parts of the world. In 1993, armed with the support of her criminal lawyer husband, she started working to close a legal loophole in the Canadian Criminal Code, which failed to protect Canadian children abroad or foreign children from Canadian predators.

Her efforts led to the implementation in 1996 of the “Prober Amendment” to Canada’s child sex tourism legislation. With this new legislation, any Canadian who engages in crimes related to child sexual abuse or child pornography in a foreign country can be held accountable under Canadian law. The change makes “sex holidays” to child prostitution hotspots in the developing world less attractive to Canadians.

That same year, Prober took a trip to Sweden to attend a global conference on child sex tourism. The trip was a seminal event in her life, as she met fellow Canadian Mark Eric Hecht, a children’s rights lawyer. Both shared concern about the plight of sexually abused and exploited children worldwide. In an effort to make a positive change, they founded Beyond Borders.

As its president, Prober shaped Beyond Borders into a national bilingual volunteer organization dedicated to advancing the rights of children around the world to be free from sexual abuse and exploitation. While based in Canada, the organization has a worldwide influence. It functions as Canada’s representative to ECPAT International (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), a worldwide NGO headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand, that has more than 80 groups in 75 countries.

The primary mandates of Beyond Borders are to raise awareness about the problem of child sexual abuse and exploitation, advocate for improvements in legislation, monitor court cases for human rights violations, promote and support effective prevention and intervention initiatives, intervene in court cases to provide a voice for victims, and provide training and education.

While Beyond Borders remains at its heart a grassroots organization, recent support from The Body Shop has permitted them to launch the Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign in Canada and 50 other countries. Support from The Body Shop has also allowed for the implementation of their “Man-to-Man” campaign, for which Beyond Borders has enlisted high-profile men to speak out against child sexual abuse.

Prober’s other efforts at helping to protect our most vulnerable citizens include co-founding Cybertip.ca, Canada’s national tipline for reporting online sexual victimization. She speaks regularly about child sex tourism, internet luring, child pornography, sexual abuse in polygamy, commercial child sexual exploitation, and trafficking.

For her contribution to the protection of children, Prober has received several awards, and in 2010 she was appointed to the Order of Canada.