Sexual Exploitation of Children is a Growing Phenomenon

Gathered in Winnipeg, representatives of the private sector commit to curbing the sexual exploitation of children
From:  MarketWatch, Sep 26, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) 
Hosted by the University of Winnipeg, Canada, an important meeting has brought together representatives from Canada and around the world over the last two days to discuss the role the private sector plays through socially responsible initiatives to curb sexual exploitation of children.
The Global Expert Thematic Consultation on Corporate Social Responsibility for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation is one of the five thematic focuses of the 3rd World Congress against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 25-28 November 2008.
The number of children in both affluent and impoverished parts of the globe who are trafficked for sexual purposes, exploited by tourists, and abused through pornography and Internet-related crimes, continues to increase year by year.
This growing phenomenon of the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents can take many forms: child pornography, trafficking of children, child sex tourism, abuse and exploitation in the family and in schools, child marriage, sexual exploitation in labour and supply chains, abuse of child domestic workers, or sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings.
"It is our shared commitment to curbing the sexual exploitation of children that unites us and has drawn us here this week" says Nigel Fisher, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada and co-rapporteur of the meeting. "No longer hidden behind the doors of homes and hotel rooms, it is only a keystroke away from each of us. Curbing the violation of our children is a challenge all of us must take up together. We have a new opportunity to commit to act on it."
Lessons learned
In the last two days, the participants in the Winnipeg Global Consultation have worked together to examine what's working and what more is required. They are now expected to shape the recommendations and dialogue for the corporate social responsibility theme at the World Congress, as well as to inspire the private sector to expand the exemplary work of industry leaders.
The group has learned more about codes of internal and industry-wide corporate conduct, and about their effective implementation and monitoring; about innovative legislation to protect children from sexual exploitation; and about the latest research on what works to guide its efforts. The delegates have heard directly from young people about what they need to do.
The Winnipeg Global Consultation is organized by UNICEF Canada and the Child Welfare League of Canada, with the contribution of the Canadian Red Cross, Beyond Borders, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in collaboration with the Central Organizing Committee for the World Congress, and with the financial support of the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Foundation, Healthy Child Manitoba and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
On the road to Rio
The private sector plays an important and growing role in the prevention of violence, exploitation and abuse. The evolving face of child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, in virtual space, and in the media renders it impossible to counter without the private sector's involvement and support. The travel and tourism industry and new technologies have been at the centre of private sector initiatives to eliminate sexual exploitation of children. Other sectors and their roles to prevent the sexual exploitation of children have only been marginally considered.
The aim of the working meeting in Winnipeg leading up to World Congress has been to broaden the range of socially responsible partnerships among a variety of industries, and with companies large and small. On the road to Rio, global expert thematic consultations are gathering the perspectives of researchers, industry leaders, government, civil society and young people to discuss and resolve to act on measures to address the sexual exploitation of children.
Referring to what has been accomplished so far, Nigel Fisher concludes by saying: "It's no longer good enough for governments and civil society organizations to labour alone against this blight on humanity. Private sector entities also have an obligation to act. There are more children exploited today than when we first officially joined efforts at the first World Congress just over 10 years ago," says Fisher.
The 3rd World Congress against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents will gather over 3,000 participants to decide and commit to actions to be undertaken across all sectors to build a stronger protective environment for children. For more information, visit: www.sedh.gov.br or www.ecpat.net/worldCongressIII.
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