Launch of three year programme against Sexual Exploitation of Children in Asia

On 3 March 2016 Terre des Hommes Netherlands launched its three year programme against sexual exploitation of children online and in travel and tourism. This programme is implemented in nine countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand) for a planned amount of EUR 12 million.

 

Prevention, provision and advocacy

“Todays launch of this programme is an important event and shows our commitment against online sexual exploitation of children and exploitation of children in travel and tourism in Asia. With the design of this programme, which is a combination of prevention, service provision and advocacy activities as well as strengthening prosecution of perpetrators, we will be able make a difference in the lives of thousands of children,” says Mrs. Hanneke Oudkerk, Programme Manager, Sexual Exploitation of Children in Asia Programme.

Importance for Bangladesh

The launching workshop was attended by representatives from the various partner organisations in this programme in Asia. “This programme is particularly important for Bangladesh as the issue of online exploitation exists in different forms, but it is not recognised by the government nor by civil society. We think it is of critical importance to realise the reality, raise awareness and train duty-bearers. We have developed our action plan and will address policy makers”, says Mrs. Gita Chakraborty from Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), our implementing partner in Bangladesh.

Background

Sexual exploitation of children online and sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism are two interlinked emerging issues in Asia. The Internet has increasingly facilitated the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism in Asia. Travelling child sex offenders are now able to anonymously gain access to networks that provide information on local children and the services available at destinations. The internet is also being used to groom children online before traveling sex offenders reach their destination.

Goals and objectives

The overall objective of this programme is to prevent children falling victim to online sexual exploitation and exploitation in travel and tourism, to provide services to child victims of online sexual exploitation and exploitation in travel and tourism, to advocate for better (implementation of) legislation and to prosecute perpetrators of online sexual exploitation of children and sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism.

Specific outcomes are:

  • Children at risk and survivors of online sexual exploitation and sexual exploitation in travel and tourism claim their rights
  • Families and communities protect children from online sexual exploitation and sexual exploitation in travel and tourism
  • Governments protect children by making and adequately implementing laws and policies to protect children from online sexual exploitation and sexual exploitation in travel and tourism
  • Law enforcement agencies convict perpetrators of online sexual exploitation of children and sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism
  • Civil society organisations protect the rights and best interests of children sexually exploited online and in travel and tourism (and children vulnerable to this form of exploitation)
  • Private sector contributes to the wellbeing of children sexually exploited online and in travel and tourism

Approach and strategy

  • We work together with 25 local partner organisations specialised in sexual exploitation of children in eight countries in Asia to be as effective and efficient as possible in our fight against sexual exploitation of children
  • We provide temporary shelter, psychosocial support, legal aid and legal council for child victims of online sexual exploitation and sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism
  • We actively build cases against traveling sex offenders  with our local investigators, we do this in close cooperation and coordination with the local police departments
  • We train law enforcement officers, judges and prosecutors in online and offline investigations and child friendly interview techniques
  • We advocate for better implementation of national laws on child protection and on the availability of resources to effectively implement laws and policies
  • We strengthen the capacity of our partners in online sexual exploitation of children and sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism
  • We do research in various areas related to online child exploitation and sexual exploitation in travel and tourism and use this for evidence based advocacy

Sweetie

In 2011 Terre des Hommes received the first reports about online child abuse through live streaming from its partners in the Philippines. As a result Terre des Hommes launched its Sweetie campaign in November 2013. With this virtual girl called Sweetie, Terre des Hommes has put webcam sex firmly on the global agenda. In just two months, Terre des Hommes exposed over 1,000 perpetrators of webcam sex involving children. A number of these have already been convicted.

Project WATCH

Since 2012 Terre des Hommes is actively gathering evidence and building cases against traveling child sex offenders in Asia. We do this in close cooperation with local police departments. Between April 2014 and March 2015, 28 traveling child sex offenders were arrested in Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Nepal as a result of our investigations.  

 

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