Five children rights organisations will eliminate sexual exploitation

The Down to Zero alliance has begun to implement its joint program to reduce the sexual exploitation of children to zero. The partnership exists of Terre des Hommes Netherlands, Defence for Children-ECPAT, Free a Girl, ICCO and Plan International Nederland. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs funds the program and is a strategic partner. The alliance focuses on eleven countries in Asia and Latin America.

 

Sexual exploitation

The demand for sex with minors increases

Worldwide there are over 2 million minors victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Boys and girls sell their bodies out on the street or inside bars, or are being exploited sexually by means of a webcam. In many cases it concerns girls and young women. They are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation in tourist hotspots and border areas, in their own country or just over the border. Besides that the online problem is growing too, because of the ever-increasing number of people that have access to the internet. According to the FBI there are 750.000 men pursuing sex with minors online, at any given time of day.

Child, community, government and the business sector

The alliance tackles the problem from various angles. For example, the organisations are empowering children and youngsters to stand up for their rights. They help communities protect their children in a more effective way and to condemn sexual exploitation. The alliance influences policy, legislation and regulation and its enforcement. Furthermore the children’s rights organizations cooperate with the business sector in order to, for example in the tourist sector and the IT sector, prevent and fight sexual exploitation of children.

Cooperation between aid organisations and the ministry

Through the cooperation between the ministry of Foreign Affairs and aid organisations, the ministry hopes that the governments in the countries are more accessible. Aid organisations usually have more leeway to highlight matters like discrimination.  Furthermore they play a crucial role in reaching disadvantaged groups. Minister Ploumen (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) speaks of a pragmatic approach that’s receiving a lot of praise: “Our partners have proven that they’re able to play an important role when raising taboo-subjects.”

Eleven countries

The Down to Zero program will run until 2020. In a joint effort with local partners the alliance is implementing the program in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Additionally, the alliance and its partners collaborate with local networks, authorities and entrepreneurs. The Dutch embassies in concerned countries are also involved.

 

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