United Nations ESCAP
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  Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: Challenges of Prevention and Victimization

Panel discussion held during the Second Asia-Pacific Inter-Governmental Meeting on Human Resource Development for Youth
Bangkok, 1 June 1998

  Challenges for protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation were discussed at a panel discussion on "Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: Challenges of Prevention and Victimization". The discussion wa held on 1 June 1998, the first day of the Second Asia-Pacific Inter-Governmental Meeting on Human Resource Development for Youth.

Related issues, such as the need for cooperation between all sectors of society, and the process of the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of the victims, were also discussed by the panel.

The panel discussion was moderated by Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, General Rapporteur for the Stockholm World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. The panel was comprised of Dr. Saisuree Chutikul, Former Minister and now Senior Advisor to the Government of Thailand on Women's and Children's Affairs; Ms. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; Mr. Ron O'Grady, ECPAT International Chairperson; Mr. Zia Ahmed Awan, President, Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid, Pakistan; and Ms. Anuradha Koirala, Director, Maiti Nepal.

The panelists noted that child rape, incest, child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes were all prevalent in the ESCAP region, as well as in other parts of the world. Indeed, these phenomenons are becoming increasingly globalized, and the market for child victims exists at a local, transnational and international level. It was noted with alarm that trafficking of children is on the rise.

Trafficking is done by means of abduction, tricks and enticement, and occurs both within and across borders. Furthermore, the advent of technology, in particular the Internet, has also facilitated the transmission of information as well as child pornography images to all parts of the globe.

The panelists also discussed preventative and recovery measures, such as livelihood programmes for impoverished families, education, legislation, training of multi-disciplinary teams to care for children, participation of victims in planning and evaluation of policies and programmes, reintegration programmes, and enhancing victims' access to relevant health services.

Youth participants at the meeting voiced their concern for street children and the commercial sexual exploitation of school girls, and called for the active participation of the abused and exploited children themselves in planning and implementing policies and programmes. The youth also urged the enacting of stricter policies for the abusers.

Panelists each touched upon particularly salient points. Dr. Saisuree urged that the topic of child sexual abuse and exploitation be included in the recommendations at the world Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. She also stressed the importance of not forgetting about this panel discussion, but rather using this meeting as a step to take further actions.

Ms. Calcetas-Santos reiterated the need to keep taking further actions for the prevention of child sexual abuse and exploitation. She additionally noted that the needs of children must be mainstreamed into policy concerns, and that children must be recognized as participants in this process.

In addition, Mr. Ahmed Awan suggested that countries that have adopted good policies and programmes since the Stockholm Conference, as well as some NGOs that are doing good work, be used as models for other countries when formulating their measures and policies against child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Ms. Koirala next remarked that girl trafficking is growing at an alarming rate. She noted that the global community has a responsibility to tackle this problem, and must do so as soon as possible.

Lastly, Mr. O'Grady reminded everyone that the welfare of the children must be foremost in all policies and actions. He remarked that we must find out what has gone wrong with our society in that people are prepared to abuse children and treat them as commodities.

The following characteristics about child sexual and abuse were noted by the panelists:

  1. It is borderless. Child sexual abuse and exploitation occurs both across and within all borders, involves both local and foreign clients, and affects children in both developing and developed countries.
  2. It is timeless. The traditional forms of abuse and exploitation still exists, and newer forms, associated with technology, are emerging.
  3. It is ageless. The ages of the children and youth vary, and unfortunately are getting younger and younger.
  4. It is limitless. Exploitation and abuse inflict a wide arrange of multiple abuses on the victims - physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
  5. It is genderless. Both boys and girls can be victims.
  6. It is shameless. These crimes which are perpetuated against children and in which children are treated as commodities are shameless. Indeed, the abuse and exploitation inflicted upon children is a contemporary form of slavery.

Strategies and actions discussed during the afternoon included the following:

In the area of international and regional level strategies, the following suggestions were made by the panel.

  1. There is a need to urge governments to enforce the CRC and the Stockholm Platform for Action, and to discuss child sexual abuse and exploitation and the upcoming Lisbon World Conference;
  2. The promotion of regional, sub-regional and bi-lateral cooperation, such as in the form of treaties and informal arrangements, in order to counter child sexual abuse and exploitation, and to ensure the victim's safe return home in the case of trafficking;
  3. Establishment of relationships between International NGOs, Interpol, GOs, NGOs, civil society, businesses, spiritual leaders, and families in the fight against abuse and exploitation;
  4. Advocate and implement more child and youth participation in the formulation of measures to protect them from abuse and exploitation.

National and local measures could include the following:

  1. Recognize the issues of abuse and exploitation more openly in national policies;
  2. Evolve national policies and plans of action against abuse and exploitation in keeping with international standards;
  3. Integrate and mainstream the issues of abuse and exploitation into national and local level planning;
  4. Identify national structures, including focal points to fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation, and including data collection;
  5. Reinforce prevention measure such as anti-poverty programmes, non-formal and formal education, vocational training, community awareness, community volunteers, and spiritual strengthening;
  6. Foster more family development, education and mobilization to respond to child protection and assistance;
  7. Improve laws and law enforcement through better laws, transparency, accountability, community participation, and the enactment of new locals where required. Enact child sensitive legal systems which punish the abusers and not the children;
  8. Improve and foster the recovery and reintegration of victims, through multi-disciplined teams. Take measures to return victims quickly and safely home;
  9. Maximize cooperation between NGOs, GOs, businesses, spiritual leaders, etc. in innovative ways, and both within and across borders;
  10. Maximize child and youth participation in the planning, implementing and evaluating of laws and measures which concern to them.

The panel discussion on "Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: Challenges of Prevention and Victimization" was a thought-provoking and stimulating experience for panelists, participants, and observers. The panelists presentations were informative and motivating , and the discussion was enriching. At the end of the day, all participants expressed their commitment and desire to go to their home countries and fight for the prevention of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Back to overview of both meetings

Asia-Pacific Meeting of Youth Organizations in Preparation for the Third Session of the World Youth Forum, 27-29 May 1998
Report of the Meeting    (TEXT-ONLY VERSION)
List of Participants    (TEXT-ONLY VERSION)

Second Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HRD
for Youth, 1-5 June 1998

Keynote Speech | Panel Discussion
Report of the Meeting    (TEXT-ONLY VERSION)
List of Participants  (TEXT-ONLY VERSION)
Asia-Pacific Position    (TEXT-ONLY VERSION)
Proposals for Action  (TEXT-ONLY VERSION)
Proposal No 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8


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