Asian-Pacific countries agreed today to step-up action against the sexual exploitation and trafficking of youngsters after the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned earlier this week that such problems, left unchecked, would undermine the region’s progress in improving child welfare.
About one million children aged 12 to 17 work in the sex trade in Asia, the largest number in the world, UNICEF told delegates at the Sixth East Asia and Pacific Ministerial Consultation on Children in Bali, Indonesia.
The conference unanimously adopted the Bali Consensus, a plan for the 25 participating countries to collaborate with UNICEF on improving child rights in the region, after examining commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children during the three-day meeting. HIV/AIDS, nutrition, maternal and neo-natal mortality and education were among the other topics discussed during.
The East Asia and Pacific region has so far shown mixed results in improving the welfare of children, according to the UN agency.
“There have been some positive developments: the signing or ratification of the Option Protocol on the Sale and Trafficking of Children by nine countries in the region,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said at the conference. “But more needs to be done if we are to combat this business, and yes, it is a business in which a few profit from the degradation of others.”