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Thousands of kids trapped in sex industry

Dutch aid body says law enforcement on child sex tourism is weak and Asian govts need to take it more seriously to clamp down of vice. -The Jakarta Post/ANN

Thu, Mar 19, 2009
The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

An estimated 60,000 children in Southeast Asia are being exploited to work in a multimillion dollar of commercial sexual businesses, a reality that also occurs in many other countries, a seminar was told Wednesday.

"The number of falling victims of the sexual abuse is on increase. It is affecting every country, not only in the Southeast Asia," said Frans van Dijk, the regional director of Terre des Hommes Netherlands, a Dutch aid body focusing on children.

He was giving a welcoming speech in the three-day Southeast Asia Conference on Child Sex Tourism held in Sanur Paradise Hotel.

Van Dijk encouraged the governments to take the issue more seriously because he considered that the current law enforcement toward such a case as very weak.

However, he underlined that the law enforcement was not the only solution against cases of abusing the minors because it did not address the causes.

He said that because the core problem laid on poverty and lack of education, all elements in the society should put sufficient efforts to raise the awareness in the communities, empower people to protect the minors and establish a safety network for children.

Another speaker, Irwanto, the president of the National Coalition for the Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation, said the law enforcement in the country was weak because the officers were often hesitant to arrest a perpetrator because it would make a family lost their basic income.

He said Indonesia needed to immediately ratify the United Nations Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflicts and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. Indonesia has signed both protocols in 2001.

Marco Scarpati, the president of Italy chapter of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), said the rapid growth of information and telecommunication technology, especially the internet, played a major role in exacerbating the phenomenon of the child sex tourism.