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South Asia: Children deserve better protection

Publish Date: 01 Oct 2004

Source: UNICEF News Notes

Children in South Asia deserve better protection from sex abusers and traffickers

Call for regional targeting of those supplying and abusing children

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, 1 October, 2004 -  A call to do more to target those supplying children in South Asia for the sex trade and other forms of labour has been made at a meeting in Colombo. 

Eight governments in South Asia along with UN agencies, NGOs and Young People have been meeting to look at what is being done.  The meeting is the first in the region to review progress since commitments were agreed at the 2001 2nd World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Yokohama, Japan.

"Children in South Asia have the right to expect better protection from the threat of sexual abuse and exploitation,' said Dr Esther Guluma, Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia. 'Building on measures already taken in the way suggested will limit the ability of criminals to make slaves of children and go some way to limit the demand that robs children of innocence."

The 150 people attending agreed that, while actions have been taken, more has to be done in the face of rising numbers of children and women being trafficked.  Five points for further action were unanimously adopted as 'urgent imperatives'. These include measures to;
  • Conduct better research into the demand that underpins sexual abuse and exploitation of children, including the abuse that results from home grown demand. At the same time there should be greater cooperation between countries and through SAARC to identify and prosecute those involved in supplying children.
  • Reinforce Protection measures through the adoption of National Action Plans covering sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking, and that these should be adequately funded. 
  • Develop compatible databases of abused, exploited and trafficked children with information on age, gender and nationality which should allow better identification of national trends and indicators.
  • Work with NGO, UN and multilateral partners to develop indicators of impact and effectiveness so that programmes are well implemented and successful initiatives can be scaled up and good practices identified.
  • Keep at the top of the agenda the importance of working with children and young people to ensure their insights are included in policy formation to ensure better process.

Note to editors

Because of links with organised crime it is extremely difficult to get reliable figures on trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children. But estimates suggest that from Bangladesh about 300, 000 women and children have been trafficked to India and 200,000 to Pakistan. In addition between 100,000 and 200,000 Nepali women and girls are said to be working in India's sex industry.  While not all those trafficked will be employed as prostitutes, a considerable proportion will have become involved in such exploitation.

For further information, please contact:

Martin Dawes, UNICEF Regional Office +977 1 441 7082
Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF Sri Lanka +94 11-255-5270

© 2004 UNICEF