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Region's governments urged to push through tough anti-child sex measures

© UNICEF/Lely Djuhari
Role play of child abuse at the Meeting

Bangkok, Thailand, 20 August 2008 – Despite some progress in recent years in addressing the problem of sexual abuse of children in East Asia and the Pacific, much more needs to be done to address the issue of child exploitation.

That  was  one of the key messages heard at the "East Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory  Meeting for the World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and  Adolescents"   –  a  two-day  meeting  held  to  feed recommendations to an upcoming world summit on the issue.

Hundreds  of  experts, government officials and young activists from around the  region  attended  the  meeting  which  was  held at the United Nations Conference   Centre   in   Bangkok,   and   which  ended  on  Tuesday  with recommendations  on  how  to  end  the  scourge  of  sexual exploitation of children.

"Progress  has  been  made  but  the fact is that East Asia and the Pacificcontinue  to  be  hot spots where large numbers of children are exploited," said  Anupama  Rao  Singh, UNICEF's Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific,  at  the  meeting's  conclusion. "The region's governments need to take their anti-exploitation efforts to another level and push through much tougher anti-child sex measures."

"All countries are affected by these issues in various ways and there is no one  approach  that  suits  all,"  said Amihan Abueva, Chairperson of ECPAT International, an NGO focused on ending child prostitution, pornography and trafficking. "For example, despite the focus being on tourists from abroad, we should highlight that the majority of the offenders are local men."

© UNICEF/Lely Djuhari
Youth participants at the Meeting

Led  by  ECPAT International, the UN Children's Fund and the United Nations Economic  and  Social  Commission  for  Asia and the Pacific, the meeting's attendees  discussed  –  for the upcoming World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation  of  Children and Adolescents* in Brazil – a set of time-bound goals   and   targets   to  mitigate  the  issues  of  child  prostitution, trafficking, cyber crimes and abuse in travel and tourism.

The goals and targets include:

• Set  up  child  sex  offender registries in each country to ensure child abusers  are  monitored  and  prevented  from travelling abroad to abuse young  people  in other nations as well as have extraterritorial laws in place  to  ensure nationals who abuse children abroad, if necessary, are returned to their home country to face prosecution.
• Do  much more to protect children accessing the Internet.  All countries must  have  specific laws to criminalize all forms of child pornography, including  its  production,  dissemination  and  possession  and  ensure internet  service  providers  introduce effective blocking and filtering services to prevent such images being hosted online.

"While  acts of commercial sexual exploitation are acts of violence as well as violations of human rights, they are not always treated as crimes," said Shigeru  Mochida,  the  Deputy  Executive  Secretary of ESCAP. "The need to criminalize  such acts is stressed in all legal instruments and agendas for action on the commercial sexual exploitation of children."

Apart  from  specific  calls  to  target abusers of children, more holistic measures were urged. These were to:

• Ensure  greater  protection for children escaping poverty and who end up in  abusive  situations  by providing job skills training and employment opportunities;  and establishing specialist services to allow them to be repatriated  and reintegrated by their communities so they are no longer vulnerable to exploitation.

• Educate  those who come into contact with children who are vulnerable to abuse,  and  that  boys  are  also victims and their needs should not be overlooked.

Among  the  delegates,  young  people  played an active role throughout the meeting  by  sharing  their views and making key recommendations related to the protection of their peers.

For further information or media interviews please contact:

ECPAT: Caroline Liou, +62 847297528;
Save the Children: Dominique Plateau, +66 863367736
World  Vision:   Laurence  Gray,  Asia  Pacific regional Advocacy Director, cell: +66 81 8452807
UN     ESCAP:    Thawadi    Pachariyangkun    +66816343876;
UNICEF: Lely Djuhari +66 89 223 1432;

Notes to editors:

*  The  World  Congress  III  against  Sexual  Exploitation of Children and Adolescents  will  be held in Rio de Janeiro from 25-28 November. More than 3,000  participants  comprised of governments, civil society, international organisations,  private  sector,  children and young people are expected to attend  this  global  forum convened to map out the actions that have to be taken    to    combat    the    sexual   exploitation   of   children.  ( )



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