Down to Zero

Down to Zero Terre des Hommes Ronald de Hommel Seksuele uitbuiting van kinderen

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is a phenomenon that affects 2 million children worldwide. In an alliance named 'Down to Zero' Terre des Hommes Netherlands (lead), Plan International Netherlands, Defence for Children - ECPAT, Free a Girl and ICCO Cooperation work together aiming to end commercial sexual exploitation in ten countries in Asia and Latin America by 2020, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. This 5-year programme (2016-2020) enables children and young people to defend their own rights, enables communities to become safer and protective of their children against commercial sexual exploitation enables governments to improve and implement related policies, laws and regulations. The Alliance also collaborates with the private sector, for example in the tourist industry.

The ten countries where Down to Zero is active: India, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Brasilia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Colombia and Peru.

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In many instances, sexual exploitation concerns girls and young women. They originate from areas where they are often not protected: women and girls are often considered inferior. On top of that, in many countries the legislation to protect them has not been put in place. In refugee camps and during large events such as the FIFA World Cup, girls are also extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation. As more and more people can access the Internet, we see an increased problem here as well. At any time of the day, an estimated 750,000 men are looking online for sex with minors.


The Down to Zero programme focuses on four strategic objectives to ban commercial sexual exploitation of children in ten countries:

  • Victims and children who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation are able to stand up for their rights and thus protect themselves from sexual exploitation as they recognize the signs of sexual exploitation and report them. They also play an active role in raising awareness of the problem, among others with their peers, and in decision-making.
  • The environment where children grow up is safer, offers better protection of victims and prevents children from being victimised (again) by raising public awareness of the consequences of commercial sexual exploitation of children and thereby breaking the taboo and sense of shame surrounding this issue.
  • Governments and judicial authorities implement policies, action plans and protocols to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children and make funding available for doing so by lobbying, capacity building, advocating the prosecution of perpetrators and by contributing to proper mechanisms for assigning victims the appropriate assistance and monitoring their progress.
  • Market leaders or industry associations (tourism, ICT, transport and mining) are actively involved in protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation by for example lobbying and cooperating with the implementation of policies concerning codes of conduct.

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What we do

The Down to Zero alliance addresses the commercial sexual exploitation of children in ten countries by:

  • Enabling children and adolescents to defend their own rights
  • Helping communities to better protect their children from commercial sexual exploitation
  • Improving and implementing relevant policies and laws and regulations in the ten countries
  • Cooperating with the industry to for example prevent and address sexual exploitation of children in the tourism sector

The video below illustrates how the Down to Zero alliance works effectively with the private sector on the basis of certain principles.