Published August 20, 2009
Deena Guzder, for the Pulitzer Center
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Past surveys indicate that 30 to 35 per cent of all sex workers in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia are between 12 and 17 years of age. Sex tourism targeting children creates huge monetary incentives for traffickers. Human trafficking is a worldwide tragedy impacting an estimated 1.2 million child victims. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) recently stated that 79% of all global trafficking is for sexual exploitation, which is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world.
UNICEF notes that sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities reluctant to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitation. These attitudes make children far more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Most exploitation of children takes place as a result of their absorption into the adult sex trade where they are exploited by local people and sex tourists. The Internet provides an efficient global networking tool for individuals to share information on destinations and procurement.
Watch UNICEF Thailand's Chief of Child Protection, Amanda Bissex, talk about protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation: