Thursday, December 20, 2001

Charles Scanlon
Tokyo correspondent

Demand for action on child sex trade

Child prostitution and pornography are spreading
Child prostitution and pornography are spreading

An international conference on the commercial sexual exploitation of children has ended with calls for more action to combat a growing problem.

For four days, delegates to the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children have heard disturbing evidence that the global trade in children is on the increase.

Up to one million youngsters under the age of 18 are estimated to be ensnared by prostitution rings every year.

Paedophiles are increasingly using the internet
Paedophiles are increasingly using the internet

One report highlighted a lucrative trade in Europe. It said large numbers of girls between the ages of 15 and 18 are being transported from eastern Europe to countries including France, Germany and Britain.

Sexual slavery

The congress, held in the Japanese city of Yokohama, heard that child prostitution networks in Cambodia are acting with impunity and that growing numbers of children are being sold into sexual slavery on the coastal trade routes of West Africa.

The more than 3,000 representatives from governments, the United Nations and voluntary groups adopted what they called the Yokohama Global Commitment.

It says the inaugural conference five years ago in Stockholm had generated a greater awareness of the problem. The time had now come for implementation.

Internet threat

Non-government groups said there must be no more empty promises and additional funding would be needed if the problem was going to be tackled seriously.

They warned new forms of abuse were emerging, particularly through the trade of child pornography on the internet.

Fifty countries have been drawing up plans to combat the sexual exploitation of children. Activists say the programmes must now be turned into legislation.

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Created: April 12, 2003
Last modified: April 13, 2003
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