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Date: Fri, 31 Jul 98 23:39:05 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: ASIA: Losing the Fight Against Child Sex Trade?
Article: 40300
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.29928.19980802001604@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 456.0 **/
** Topic: CHILDREN-ASIA: Losing the Fight Against Child Sex Trade? **
** Written 4:06 PM Jul 13, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1998 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

Losing the Fight Against Child Sex Trade?

By Ron Corben, IPS
10 July 1998

BANGKOK, Jul 10 (IPS) - Governments and international organisations have stepped up efforts to stop the child sex trade, but perpetrators of the social scourge have proved to be formidable foes especially in Asia.

As a result, says a new United Nations paper released here recently, child prostitution in Asia remains "large scale". Indeed, says UN chief of the human resources development section Nanda Krairiksh, child abuse and exploitation in the region are increasing despite added legal obstacles to prevent their occurrence.

"If you look at a number of areas, things aren't really improving," she says. Nanda cites the case of Thailand where the number of Thai children in sex work seems to have gone down "a little bit".

But she says there are more children coming into Thailand - mainly from Burma and Cambodia - and ending up in the flesh trade.

According to the Bangkok-based End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), there could be as much as one million children under the age of 16 in brothels across the region.

This is despite the passing of new laws in several countries that are designed to protect children from such abuse as well as to thwart the trafficking of children across borders.

According to the UN paper, released in advance of a regional preparatory meeting for the World Conference of Ministers for Youth in August, the problem in Asia is "not that of a lack of laws to protect children, but rather the implementing of existing laws".

A non-government organisation (NGO) worker here confirms this, and says of the region's still thriving child sex trade: "It's almost like a hidden industry, and it's filled with vested interests. There are vested interests in the government, the police force. And many of the raids (on paedophile haunts) are staged."

Typical is the situation in Angeles City in the Philippine north, where authorities are known to conduct regular raids on one particular area notorious for the trade in young flesh.

The pimps and the sex workers are rounded up and the brothels close down each time. But it takes only a few hours before the place is again conducting brisk business in child sex.

Many child sex workers are runaways who were lured into the trade by people they had mistakenly trusted. But some wound up in the lurid business as a result of being sold by their own relatives, including parents, although a few of the latter apparently did so in the belief that the youngsters will become domestic helpers.

The UN paper says there are also cases in which the children are "kidnapped, trafficked across borders or from rural to urban areas, and moved from place to place so that they effectively disappear".

NGO workers say such children are bound to show up in places like Angeles City or Pattaya, the Thai beach resort that has become infamous for being a paedophile lair.

Just a few weeks ago, a 78-year-old Australian national was arrested there on possible child abuse charges, after being found in his hotel room with two Thai boys, both less than 15 years old. If found guilty, Lyle Dunlap could be facing a prison sentence of less than 10 years.

ECPAT says it is no surprise that places that are tourist magnets also have a high incidence of child sex cases. But while the UN paper also says the continued marketing of Asia as prime destination for tourists looking for sexual adventures, it also notes that the impact of local tourism "should not be underestimated".

In the Philippines, for example, a study by the NGO Women's Education, Development, Productivity and Research Organisation found that "Filipinos are the main users of prostituted Filipinas".

Some NGO workers say the demand in child sex workers remains high in Asia because of the mistaken belief of many that having sex with a virgin is a good precaution against AIDS. There are also some societies that believe sex with virgins is the key to keeping young and feeling invigorated.

But it is the children themselves who pay a high price for having been involved in the trade. According to ECPAT chair Ron O'Grady, the chances of full rehabilitation are slim for children who have been sexually abused repeatedly.

He adds: "We know that those children who are kept in brothels die quite young. (They) die in many cases before they have had a chance to live. We know they die from AIDS, from drugs and from committing suicide."

"This is the reality of the world in which we live in," says O'Grady. "It is a reality (that) for centuries we have hidden, and it is only really in the last few years that we have begun to realise that we have over the years been willing party to the destruction of our future and to breeding a kind of violence that feeds on itself."


Origin: Manila/CHILDREN-ASIA/

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