Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (email@example.com)
Thu, 8 Oct 1998 12:35:38 -0700 (PDT)
UK Child prostitutes 'victims not criminals'
The scale of child prostitution in the UK is unknown
Child prostitutes are to be treated as victims not offenders
under new guidelines to be announced by the Home Office.
Home Office minister Alun Michael also promised that links
between courts, social services, schools and health services
would be improved, and the link between child abuse in the
UK and overseas will be investigated.
He was speaking at the UK-hosted Asia-Europe (ASEM)
summit conference on children which hopes to establish a
strategy to prevent European paedophile 'sex tourists'
preying on Asia's estimated one million child prostitutes.
'Combat this evil'
Mr Michael said: "Children throughout
the world have a right to their childhood.
"Sexual exploitation strips children of
their self-respect, integrity and safety.
Their childhood is stolen.
"By working together in the UK
and throughout the world we
can combat this evil
Foreign Office Minister Derek
Fatchett said one million
children were estimated to be
involved in the sex trade in
An estimated 300,000 child
prostitutes worked on the
streets in the US and children
as young as eight were selling
themselves for food, cigarettes or miniatures of vodka in
Moscow, he said.
He told the conference that law enforcement agencies from
Europe and Asia must meet to tackle prostitution "on a scale
we find difficult and distressing to believe".
Police organisations, charities, children's groups and
representatives from the private sector are attending three
days of discussions.
The problem has become particularly pressing in view of the
economic crisis in Asia which experts believe will drive more
children into the sex industry.
Measures that the summit is hoping to agree to include
making national sex offender registers available to foreign
police forces, an Internet guide to sex legislation in Asian and
European states and social worker exchanges.
Mr Michael said that the British government is already
conducting an extensive review of UK sex offender
legislation and suggested that British citizens who commit
offences abroad could be added to the sex offenders register
by the end of the year.
In addition, UK police forces are already training officers from
Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand in anti-sex tourism
However, Mr Michael admitted that he had no idea of the
scale of child prostitution in the UK, because it is a "hidden"
Coordinator for the End Child Prostitution, Pornography and
Trafficking campaign (ECPAT), Christine Beddoe, welcomed
the ASEM initiatives, but warned that there had been
agreements in the past where "nothing has been followed
She cited plans agreed by the 122 nations that attended the
1996 World Congress Against the Commercial and Sexual
Exploitation of Children in Stockholm.
"It is a disappointment and an embarrassment that only a
handful of countries have even gone down the track of
starting to initiate these programs," she said.
"We would like to see a commitment to ensuring that there is
implementation of the strategy and that there is a commitment
to long term resources as well."
She said the message about the child sex trade should be
prominent on the "front desks of hotels, with tour guides and
She called for money to back up the new strategy saying it
was "far too early to pat ourselves on the back".
The summit, hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, is being attended by all member states of the
European Union, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Japan, South
Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and
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