Children's Rights: Abuse abroad

Commercial sexual exploitation is one of the world’s major international industries and there is a great deal of money to be made from it. Pornography, for example, is amongst the most profitable activities on the Internet. Sex is a consumer item and, like all goods, it relies on new experiences and brands. Child sexual exploitation has been part of that marketing exercise. The fight against it has been innovative too, breaking new ground in laws that apply beyond state borders.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Keith Suter

Director of Studies, International Law Association (Australian Branch)

International child sex tourism began in Thailand and the Philippines. But in recent years it has expanded to Burma, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam. In Thailand alone about eight hundred thousand girls aged between twelve and sixteen are actively involved. This does not include boys, or girls under twelve, so the total could be over a million.

Back in 1991, when the problem began to attract the attention of human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs), a spokesperson for the Thai prime minister admitted: ‘More than five million tourists visit Thailand every year and about ten percent are sex tourists’. The London-based Anti-Slavery International estimated that percentage to be even higher.

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