NEWS:UK Child prostitutes 'victims not criminals'

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (
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.

             International register

             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

             Long-term commitment

             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
             airline staff".

             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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