In 2016, we challenged as many stakeholders as possible to work with us towards our ultimate goal: ending child exploitation. To do so, we have embraced an innovative approach and new forms of cooperation that suit the rapidly changing character of society. Cooperation with companies to identify and eliminate malpractices regarding children within their production chains will be a growing theme for Terre des Hommes Netherlands.
New approach child marriages
In combating child marriages we have been able to continue our innovative approach. This approach has been so successful that we are able to invest in the IMAGE project in Bangladesh once again in 2017, thus giving underage brides a voice to escape from deplorable conditions. What makes this program special is the involvement of spouses and in-laws. Dutch Minister Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Developmental Cooperation visited the program in 2016 and was impressed with the results of the program. Within the scope of child marriages, we are equally committed to a relatively new network in fighting child marriages called Girls Not Brides.
Successes in our fight against sexual exploitation
Also, our approach to commercial sexual exploitation of children led to successes. Throughout 2016, at least seven suspects of child sex tourism were arrested in Asia. Thanks to the Dutch Postal Code Lottery, we have enhanced Sweetie 2.0 and worked on the chatbots. These will allow for thousands of chat rooms to be monitored simultaneously and in an automated way in 2017, thus warning and putting off potential child abusers.
Unfortunately, as in previous years, our emergency aid teams were called into action throughout 2016 for children in acute distress. We offered support to the many victims of major crises across the world and provided relief to children affected by the civil wars in the Middle East as well as child refugees in Europe.