As delegates gather in Sri Lanka to review efforts to halt the commercial sexual exploitation of South Asian children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today called for better enforcement against traffickers and more cross-border cooperation by the region’s governments.
“There should be no hiding place for those selling and trading children for sex,” said Sadig Rasheed, UNICEF’s Regional Director. “While governments and law enforcement agencies must do whatever they can to protect children, a lot of problems could be stopped tomorrow if men in South Asia said ‘no’ to child sex.”
The three-day meeting in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, is drawing representatives from eight South Asian governments along with children from the region and officials from nearly a dozen UN and non-governmental agencies to assess progress since the 2001Yokohama Global Commitment, which called for greater worldwide efforts to protect children.
Because of links with organized crime it is extremely difficult to get reliable figures on trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children, but UNICEF said an estimated 300, 000 women and children from Bangladesh have been trafficked to India and another 200,000 to Pakistan.
In addition between 100,000 and 200,000 Nepali women and girls are said to be working in India’s sex industry, the agency added. While not all those trafficked will be employed as prostitutes, a considerable proportion will have become involved in this form of exploitation.