The second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children has ended in Yokohama, Japan. Participants agree that much more still needs to be done to protect children.
In a resolution ending the four-day conference, participants call for increased communication among governments, police and legal authorities to combat the sexual exploitation of children.
Delegates also urge countries to implement more effective laws and ratify international agreements to protect children.
The United Nations-sponsored conference drafted an action plan to fight sexual exploitation of children, a multi-billion dollar illicit trade intertwined with organized crime.
A Nepal representative with the organization Save the Children, Archana Tamang, says one of the big challenges in many Asian societies, particularly in South Asia, is that sexual matters as well as child abuse are cloaked in secrecy. "Lots of people get away with that especially if there is a factor of power relation, especially if it is children and women getting abused. Then there is very little chance that the truth is coming out," Ms. Tamang said.
Saffea Senessie, with a group fighting child sexual abuse called ECPAT in South Africa, says parts of Africa face a growing problem of child pornography through new technology, such as the Internet. "Our priority is not so much child pornography but of course, child prostitution and child trafficking. However, South Africa and other countries, there is a spread of Internet cafes, the issue of child pornography is now emerging," Mr. Senessie said.
The 3,000 delegates at the conference included former child sex workers. Cherry Kingsley was a teenage prostitute in Canada. "Obviously, countries need to develop laws that protect children and don't punish them. And they also need to have laws and systems that hold people [who] abuse and exploit children accountable. I think that they have to give money and develop programs that help children that are vulnerable or that are being exploited," Ms. Kingsley said.
Ms. Kingsley and other participants say this year's conference and the first one in Stockholm in 1996 are valuable. However, they say the issue needs to be raised constantly, not only among potential victims and exploiters, but also among government and society leaders.