Progress is being made to deter predators; World Vision is helping to lead the way.
In 2004, World Vision joined forces with national governments, law enforcement agencies, and other organizations to combat child sex tourism through the Child Sex Tourism Prevention Project. One method employed by World Vision as part of the project is deterring would-be child sex tourists through a targeted media campaign, displaying anti-sex-tourism messages in airports, magazines, on television, on the Internet, and elsewhere. "I was tricked and sold to a brothel when I was only 14. Everyday, I would have to provide services to 10 men against my will."
Srey*, a Cambodian child sex tourism survivor, spoke these words as she shared her story with an audience of high-level government representatives — members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Taskforce. Recently, the group convened in Hanoi, Vietnam, to address the crisis of southeast Asia's sexually exploited children.
'Do Everything You Can...'
"On the weekend, it can be as many as 20 customers; most of them are foreigners. I was sick and disgusted," the teenager added.
Tragically, the teenager's experience is not uncommon in Cambodia
. In 2001, research conducted by World Vision, in conjunction with the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, revealed:
- Some 45 percent of Cambodian travel agents interviewed said they had witnessed tour guides "supplying" children to foreign visitors.
- More than 70 percent of children surveyed in the vicinity of Angkor Watt, a popular tourist destination, said tourists had approached them for sex.
And, according to ECPAT-USA
, an organization that works to end child prostitution, an estimated 25 percent of child sex tourists are Americans.
Srey implored: "I would like all of you to understand that child sex tourism is a real problem, and I would like all of you to do everything you can to prevent other children from facing the same problem I did."
World Vision Tackling Child Sex Tourism
While child sex tourism remains a serious problem in Cambodia and other southeast Asian nations, progress is being made to deter predators. This is due in part to the work of governments and NGOs, including World Vision, which are taking steps to curb child exploitation — particularly sexual exploitation by foreigners.
In 2004, as part of World Vision's commitment to protecting children, the organization joined forces with national governments, law enforcement agencies and other organizations to combat child sex tourism through the Child Sex Tourism Prevention Project.
With backing from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, World Vision is tackling this problem with a three-pronged strategy:
- Deterrent messages: World Vision deters would-be child sex tourists with a targeted media campaign, displaying anti-sex-tourism messages in airports, magazines, on television, the Internet, and elsewhere.
- Law enforcement assistance: Working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), World Vision helps identify child sex tourists and provides information that could lead to their prosecution and conviction.
- Prevention programs: To prevent children from being drawn into the commercial sex trade, World Vision offers interventions that include education, advocacy, and the creation of other means to make a living.
The Child Sex Tourism Prevention Project has been implemented in Cambodia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand, Mexico, and the United States. For the millions of vulnerable youth who deserve every possible protection from child sex predators, it is a welcome step.
*Srey's name was changed to protect her privacy.
>> Read about Lan,
a Cambodian teenager who was also tricked and sold into sexual slavery.
Four Ways You Can Help
>> Pray for protection and healing for children who are abused, exploited and neglected; pray for the people trying to assist these children, and for a transformation of the perpetrators of this crime.
>> Advocate. Ask your senators and representative to push for an increase in resources to prosecute U.S. citizens who sexually exploit children overseas.
>> Report an American sex tourist. If you have information regarding a person who has sexually exploited a child, or suspect someone of child sex tourism, you can contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
>> Contribute to support World Vision's work to address this problem.