Child Exploitation Continues Despite Efforts to Curb Crime

Despite efforts made by South­east Asian governments to curb child trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children, the number of cases continues to rise, officials said Thursday.

“One thing we know: It’s not going down,” said Louis-Georges Arsenault, Unicef’s Cambodia representative.

Trafficking and exploitation remain difficult to control due to the methods employed by profit seekers in the highly lucrative business, Arsenault said.

Countries from around the world plan to meet this month to devise a strategy for fighting trafficking at the Second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

A five-member delegation from Cambodia will travel to Yoko­hama, Japan, from Dec 17 to Dec 20 to showcase the country’s efforts since the first World Cong­ress in 1996, as well as broaden members’ abilities to combat trafficking.

“Sexual exploitation…is a complicated [subject], which countries in the world have to solve and prevent together,” said Nim Thoth, who will lead the Cambo­dian delegation.

“The Royal Government is committed to combating the offenses by promoting the implementation of a  national plan” and working with “neighboring countries and other countries in the world,” Nim Thoth said.

Numbers are impossible to estimate, Arsenault said, but a 1996 study produced by the international agency End Child Pros­titution, Pornography and Traf­ficking, estimated that there were nearly 20,000 child prostitutes in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia remains a favorite among traffickers, used both as a source point for prostitutes and beggars to Thailand, and a destination for Vietnamese and local prostitutes, a Unicef report states.

Japanese Ambassador Gotaro Ogawa said his country chose to host this year’s events after learning more about the global scope of the problem.

Japan now has a law to punish Japanese citizens who commit sex crimes on foreign soil, a law used recently against a Japanese national accused of crimes while in Cambodia, Ogawa said.

Takeshi Ozawa, 37, from Aichi Prefecture, was arrested in Japan earlier this month on suspicion of paying for sex with a 14-year-old girl while in Cambodia.

He had been arrested in Cam­bodia on pornography and sexual exploitation charges, but was released on bail and left the country before the courts issued a verdict.

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