|On 16 April, 2004, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jessica Lange visits a temporary shelter for children in Cancun, Mexico.|
All children deserve protection from exploitation and abuse
The rights of millions of children around the world are violated every day. It is estimated that over 2 million children are exploited through prostitution and pornography and 1.2 million children are trafficked every year – many of these children are eventually forced into the sex industry.
This is growing problem – one that the entire global community has a responsibility to end. Everyone must play her or his part to protect each and every child and adolescent from these and other kinds of violations.
This week UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Oscar-winning actress Jessica Lange is in Mexico doing her part to ensure that children are protected by the governments that serve them.
Ms. Lange is attending the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s 110th International Assembly in Mexico City next week to help launch the “Handbook for Parliamentarians on Child Protection,” a joint UNICEF/IPU report.
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jessica Lange spends time with children living in a temporary shelter in Cancun, Mexico.|
The handbook will provide practical ways in which parliamentarians can use their political clout and the power of legislation, budgetary oversight and parliamentary inquiry to protect children from exploitation and abuse. It will be distributed in over 140 countries.
Ms. Lange will also be visiting UNICEF projects that focus on protecting children from sexual exploitation in the tourism industry in Cancun and Mexico City. She will also be visiting a government-sponsored shelter, meeting with community members and municipal leaders to discuss how to better protect children from exploitation and abuse, and will spend time at projects that work especially with children from the streets.
UNICEF works to end child exploitation
There are many challenges facing children in Mexico. There are 24.7 million children less than 17 years old living in poverty. An estimated 90 per cent of street children in Mexico City have been victims of sexual abuse at some stage in their lives.
In border areas, especially Tijuana and Juarez, there is a high incidence of commercial sexual exploitation. There are reports of Mexican street boys crossing the border between Tijuana and San Diego and subsequently being sexually exploited by adults. In Juarez, more than 370 young women and girls have been raped and murdered (more are currently missing), prompting a visible response from the international community.
|On 16 April, 2004, (left-right) the National Family Agency’s Social Welfare Sub-Director Norma Salazar Rivera, translator Michelle Stevens and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jessica Lange visit the municipal public security office in the town of Playa del Car|
These issues and others will be addressed during the IPU meeting next week at a panel on “Commercial sexual exploitation of children.” Ms. Lange will attend the panel along with senior UNICEF officials, representatives of partner non-governmental organizations and parliamentarians from around the world.
UNICEF works in 191 countries through country programmes and National Committees, and undertakes child protection programmes in almost all of them, focusing on issues including children without caregivers, the worst forms of child labour and violence against children. Over the last two years, the organization has allocated over $240 million to its work on child protection.
The IPU was established in 1889 and brings together Members of Parliament from over 140 states. It contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights and has a long-standing commitment to the protection of children.
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Photo essay: Goodwill Ambassador Jessica Lange’s 2003 trip to DR Congo (popup)