SABC News - Government admits to failing in their fight against child exploitation:Wednesday 21 June 2017

Government admits to failing in their fight against child exploitation

Wednesday 21 June 2017 18:23

Thabile Mbhele

It's estimated that about 193 million children are victims of sexual violence worldwide.

It's estimated that about 193 million children are victims of sexual violence worldwide.(REUTERS)

Governments and organisations fighting the sexual exploitation of children have admitted to failing to combat this crime, globally.

This has led to many people saying this crime is out of control.

It's estimated that about 193 million children are victims of sexual violence worldwide.

A Unicef report says across the world, a child dies every five minutes as a result of violence.

This emerged at a conference on Combating Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism held in Pretoria.

According to the global study on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, South Africa is considered one of the most popular destinations for travelling sexual offenders on the African continent.

It identified victims as children from poor and single parent families or orphaned children.

Other risk factors include a history of abuse, low levels of education, poor parental relationships and children with limited parental supervision.

A report by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, together with the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town, says 63% of children in SA live in poverty.

Thomas Muller, from a network of organisations called End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Child Trafficking or ECPAT, says desperate parents are forced to sometimes take work far from home and this pushes children to start to work from an early age.

“This makes them very vulnerable to anyone with the intention to take advantage of them and in many cases to criminals and hence child sexual exploitation in SA and across Africa is rampant.  The protection of children from sexual exploitation is a fundamental right yet despite all the efforts the sexual exploitation of children has expanded across the globe and outpaced every attempt to respond at an international and national level.”

Professor of Law at the Dullah Omar Institute, Benyam Dawit Mezmur, says new crimes targeting children are also emerging

President of Child Welfare South Africa, Ajit Ramasar, says sexual exploitation and any abuse threatens children's survival, development and ability to reach their full potential.

He says the protection of children from any form of exploitation is a fundamental right which we are failing to uphold.

“There is this concern that a lot more needs to be done for the children on the world. Despite all the efforts being made by all governments, by all NGO's, PBO's, NPO's, and the problem is not leaving us. We have a commitment as parents, as grand-parents, as uncles as human beings to ensure that our children are taken care of.”

Professor of Law at the Dullah Omar Institute, Benyam Dawit Mezmur, says new crimes targeting children are also emerging.

“The webcam sex tourism which is spreading rapidly which the UN describes as an alarming growth of new forms of child sexuality online. The FBI says and I quote 'it's an epidemic and that at any given moment 750 000 child predators are online and rest assured some of them are looking at children on the African continent'.”

Director General in the Tourism Department in South Africa, Victor Tharage, says there's an urgent need to send messages directly to children at school level.

“Have a teacher at a school that openly talks to the children about these things. Make sure that each child is equally empowered.Children are being raped at schools as we speak, by other children. They are being sodomised by teachers. Shocking! 20 boys story says one teacher and they have been coming and going. It continues.”

Calls have been made for harsher sentences related to child sexual abuse cases globally.

Professor Mezmure says embracing technology and the internet is key to solving these crimes.

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