[Stop-traffic] News/Thailand: Sexual exploitation of children

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Thailand: Sexual exploitation of children
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Nov 29 2000 - 10:36:30 EST


200011201322

World doing little to save children from sexual exploitation: report

           BANGKOK, Nov 20 (AFP) - Child sex exploitation has been allowed
to flourish around the world as national governments fail to act on
their commitments to stamp out the practice, a report said Tuesday.
           Four years after the Stockholm World Congress on child sex
exploitation where 122 countries pledged to draft action plans to
end the abuse, only 29 nations had honoured the agreement, said
child rights campaigners ECPAT.
           "In every continent, child victims of commercial sex
exploitation are found," ECPAT -- End Child Prostitution, Child
Pornography and Trafficking -- said in a statement.
           "Law enforcement officials impeded by ignorance and corruption
are failing to provide these children with the protection that they
are entitled to."
           At the second world congress, to be held in Yokohama, Japan,
from December 16 to 20, governments will be urged to step up their
efforts to map out national action plans -- the first step in
combating abuse.
           "States must be forcefully reminded of their failure to live up
to the promises made in Stockholm only four years ago," said ECPAT
International chief Muireann O Briain.
           The child sex industry is continuing to thrive thanks to several
new factors, including the advent of the Internet which has helped
paedophiles form networks and gain better access to victims, ECPAT
said.
           The scourge of child sex tourism has spread from Asia to other
continents, particularly northern Africa and the Pacific.
           HIV-AIDS has made children targets of men who judge they are
less likely than adult prostitutes to infect their clients with the
disease. Some even believe sex with a young child is a cure for the
infection.
           Trafficking in children, particularly in Eastern Europe, has
boomed since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the report said.
           ECPAT report coordinator Emma Morley said that on the positive
side, rights groups had succeeded in substantially boosting
awareness of commercial child sex abuse.
           Several airlines had agreed to screen videos warning their
passengers against procuring children for sex before their planes
touched down in notorious red-light holiday destinations.
           And many countries had taken steps to improve legislation to
protect children.
           "However, extremely poor law enforcement remains a major
problem," Morley said, adding that exploitation of children often
went hand-in-hand with corrupt police forces and courts.
           "Too often, victims are treated as criminals rather than as
victims," she said.
           Another problem is the severe lack of rehabilitation and
recovery services for children after they are rescued from sexual
slavery.
           "There is also a lack of international cooperation on recovery
-- children are too often left stranded and maltreated by police and
immigration authorities," she said.
           The report urged nations attending the Yokohama conference to
act swiftly to establish action plans and improve the enforcement of
current laws.
           "Children will only be protected when governments begin to
adhere to the Stockholm agreement," Morley said.
           ECPAT said that although Asia had earned a reputation for
harbouring the world's most notorious child sex industry, the region
had done "fairly well" in working to eradicate the problem.
           While communist China and Laos, and military-run Myanmar, were
still struggling to accept the problem, Cambodia and Thailand had
put substantial resources into training and law enforcement
programs.
           In comparison, the troubled former Soviet republics and African
nations ravaged by AIDS, poverty and war, had done very little to
address the issue.
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