Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Children under Threat

There is a very informative article on this month’s issue of the Readers Digest about the expansion of the child sex industry in Asia. I know this is not a new thing and there probably have been many discussions and post about it, but you just feel sad to think that it’s not getting any better.

According to a report put out by the Asia Foundation in 2006, there are an estimated 20, 000 children sexually exploited in Cambodia. In Philippines the number they estimate is around 100,000. In India the numbers are up a staggering 500,000. Unfortunately our little paradise doesn’t fare well either. According to the following article in Lanka Library - (Sri Lanka has 40,000 child prostitutes), the NCPA , quoting UNICEF and ILO reports says, there are about 40,000 child prostitutes in the country. In addition, they estimate that there are over 100,000 children working as domestic aids.

The RD article sites three developments that have contributed to the current trend:

Greater demand for child sex from Asian men
Indifference among lawmakers and enforcers
Widespread corruption

Some people would say that they are driven by poverty, but I don’t think you can use poverty as an excuse. No matter how poor you are you can’t justify selling your child as a sex slave. Those are the people who should be shot first. These types of situations where the parents are involved maybe a small percentage, but they do exist. In most other cases the parents have no knowledge of the fact. Unscrupulous criminals may take advantage of the poverty and ignorance of the parents and take the children, promising them a bright future and all the riches. Unfortunately they end up in a brothel somewhere and the parents never hear from their children again. The worse case scenario is when the children are kidnapped right off the roads.

I sincerely hope that the SL authorities are doing something to solve this problem. I know it’s not going to be easy or will happen in a day or so, but working on it is the important thing. There maybe independent groups and NGO’s working on it, but they can’t do it alone, mainly because they can’t enforce the laws or punish the guilty. That is the job of the authorities. They need to take a much tougher stance on these activities.

In my opinion the following things can be done:

Tougher penalties for offenders: This includes pedophiles and all those who support these activities.

Educate the people: Sometimes people really don’t know about these things. Especially poor parents should be made knowledgeable about the danger of sending their children away. Not only the parents, but older children should also be educated in these things. In the same way, educate people involved in the tourism industry as well.

Help the poor children: Educating the people is not going to solve their problems. If the parents can’t feed the children they might have to take drastic measures to keep them from starving. Children of poor families could be given some sort of aid, a monthly pension sort of. However their should also be a strict monitoring system in place to make sure the children are the ones who get the benefit and it’s not spent on the fathers booze. Where do we get the money? You might ask. Well if you kick out half the cabinet, there’d be plenty left over.

Support the people who do something: The government should give more support to the independent groups and NGO’s who are already working on these problems. Maybe like a special citizen’s arrest type of authority, for them to conduct raids and arrest suspects. But again there should be a strict monitoring process implemented.

More private sector involvement: Especially organizations and people related to the tourism industry should get involved in this. Currently there is a program called “Zero tolerance’ for child sex tourism“.

Provide adequate care and help for children saved: Children who are sexually exploited can have severe emotional damage and psychological problems. There should be a proper way to help them deal with it and adjust back to normal life. Ensure that they don’t fall into the same hole as before. The general populace should also learn not to judge them and not treat them like outcasts. It only makes matters worse.

I’m not an expert on this subject so I don’t have much information on it. Some of these things are probably being done already. I salute all those people who are working on these problems and who are making a difference in the world.

I don’t understand how people can treat children this way. This is not a problem limited to Asia, it’s a global problem. The problem is there in all countries to some extent. Humans are supposed to be the civilized ones, but some of them act worse than animals. I guess all of it has to do with psychology, which I have no clue about.

The following are some articles you might find interesting.

RD – Suffer the Children (you need to register to read the full article, and yes it’s free)
Lanka Library - Sri Lanka has 40,000 child prostitutes
Lanka Library - Action plan against child sex tourism
UNICEF - Sri Lanka campaign promotes ‘zero tolerance’ for child sex tourism

As I said my knowledge in this is limited, so please feel free to enlighten me…

Be gentle with the young.
Juvenal (55 AD - 127 AD)

Children might or might not be a blessing, but to create them and then fail them was surely damnation.
Lois McMaster Bujold, "Barrayar", 1991


Mia said...

This is a disgrace and a heinous crime. Offenders should be hung and left to dry.

I like your points two and three. Education is the key.

Janus said...

Where exactly does it say 40000 child prostitutes. Other links point to UNICEF and ILO, but where exactly in the UNICEF and ILO sites does it say 40000?

Azrael said...

Mia - Totally agree with you

Janus - Hmmm...It should have been worded in a different way, since I was also sourcing this article: Lanka Library - Sri Lanka has 40,000 child prostitutes.

My mistake, and thanks for the heads up.

Lady divine said...

Such a sad situation.. We need more authorities who'll genuinely look into this.. and sort things out...

We only have people who talk about it..but never people who step forward to do it.. I wish I could do something.. There needs to be a solid plan and way forward...

niroshinie said...

its very sad. i frankly dont think our 'authorities' are capable of handling it..then again are they capable of handling ANYthing??

Leiselb said...

Amen and amen.....I'll post more on your other entries tomorrow. The eradication of this evil has been a passion of mine for quite some time....but in grad school I realized how incredibly daunting it is to truly understand the dynamics surrounding and to rescue an invisible population....