Fighting Child Prostitution

Article excerpt

WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns regarding the prostitution of children, whether in or outside Canada ...

Preamble, Bill C-27 (An Act to Amend the Criminal Code particular to Child Prostitution, Child Sex Tourism, Criminal Harassment and Female Genital Mutilation)

Granted Royal Assent, April 25, 1997

An ideal childhood should be an Eden, full of wonder in creation, a time of play and exploration. However, it is estimated that in the world at any given time one million girls and boys, some as young as eight years old, or even younger, are used for prostitution and pornography. Some are sold outright to brothels. Some are "adopted" or transported to "marriages" as a cover for their sale. Many are often kept in virtual slavery in appalling conditions, not seeing sunlight for weeks at a time, or they work the streets under the threat of violence from their pimps. Most of these children never see any of the money they earn.

ECPAT is an international network dedicated to educating the public and applying political pressure to governments to find ways to stamp out the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

At a recent conference in Toronto, representatives of the federal ministries of justice and foreign affairs made presentations to address some concerns and report on advances made in curbing this activity.

An attendee of the conference said that it was a fact that some Japanese corporations would reward their employees by chartering a plane and flying them to another country to have a sex holiday with child prostitutes. However, Pauline Hedmann, national treasurer for ECPAT Canada, was quick to point out that it was not only in Japan that this has happened.

Australians, Germans, Canadians, British, French - in fact, citizens of just about any developed country, often go on sex tours to escape the laws in countries forbidding sex with children and child pornography.

Developed countries, like Canada, have introduced Bill C-27, which prohibits Canadian citizens from going abroad to commit these crimes.

However, the perpetrators have changed their methods and it's getting harder to catch them. Tour operators now send their customers singly, or in pairs, on regular airline flights in the hope of escaping detection.

That, and the startling growth of both the World Wide Web and Internet services, have increased the distribution of child pornography from sources that can be difficult to trace.

Interpol, the British-based organization that fights crime, now has a database that tracks distributors of Internet pornography and those who use it to book sex tours.

Last year, in response to international concern, UNICEF and ECPAT held a conference in Stockholm to address the issue and draft the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. …