In a series of reports published recently, namely from the United Nations Organization, the World Tourism Organization and the International Labour Organization, shocking statistics have been released which explode the myth that child prostitution was confined to Third World countries and present statistics which paint a horrific picture of a world crisis of exponential proportions. According to the World Tourism Association, every year there are 120,000,000 trips made with sexual objectives in mind, 360,000 of which are for paedophiles. However shocking this figure may appear, it seems conservative when compared with others. The Portuguese Daily Newspaper “Diario de Noticias” today quoted “international organizations” as having stated that in Asia, 12 million clients per year went to have their “sexual fantasies” fulfilled…by children. Most of these clients, the source continues, are from countries belonging to the former “western world”. Of the number of foreigners arrested for sexual crimes against children in Asia in a two-year period between 1992 and 1994, 25% were from the USA, 18% were Germans, 14% were Australians, 12% British and 6% French, totalling 75%. With child sex accounting for up to 14% of the Gross National Product of certain South-East Asian countries, this is a large business to exploit and too large for which to find an easy solution. In its report “The sex factor : the economic and social bases of prostitution”, the World Labour Organization states that sex involving children involves 800,000 children in Thailand, 100,000 in the Philippines and 500,000 in India. However, it is not only in South-East Asia where child prostitution is a problem. The United Nations Organization quoted the USA as having no less than 300,000 child prostitutes. However, in this country, the situation is not related to poverty, but to social chaos. A North American Organization which fights against the problem of child prostitution affirmed that : “The economic status of those involved in child prostitution is middle class. They do not run away from poverty, but rather from dysfunctional families in which they suffer from physical, emotional and sexual abuse”. These reports come in the wake of recent declarations by the General Director of the Spanish Minors Protection Ministry, who said that “In the (Iberian) Peninsula, mostly Portuguese, Dominican, Moroccan and Eastern European children are bought” and sold into child prostitution rings in Spain or abroad. Many children are said to disappear in Lisbon every day and now we know why and where they go. What a sickening and depraved world we live in.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon