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Changing Attitudes Key to Ending Child Sex Trade|
By Johanna Son
MANILA (IPS) - Activists hope to chip away at the child sex trade in Asia not only through tougher laws and police action, but by changing social factors and attitudes that have abetted the boom in child sex tourism in the region.
In recent years many Western countries have passed laws to discourage sex tourism by making their nationals liable for sexual abuse of children overseas, but campaigners say this is not going to be enough.
Anti-sex tourism campaigners are training their sights on educating and warning Asian families whose children are potential victims. They are also targeting potential sex tourists from Western countries -- where offenders largely come from -- and the children themselves.
''The ultimate solution to the problem lies in changing human attitudes and human values,'' said Ron O'Grady, international coordinator of End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), an advocacy group formed in Bangkok in 1990.
At an international conference on pornography held in Manila last week, O'Grady pointed to the difficult fact that ''changing laws does not necessarily change human behaviour''.
There are up to one million children held in sex slavery and prostitution in Asia, often for tourists inside and outside the region. They are found in Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Taiwan.
Poverty is often cited as the reason for child prostitution's boom in Asia, but ECPAT finds this simplistic. Asked O'Grady: ''Why is it that some families sell their children and others do not? Why does this happen in one poor village and not another?''
It seems there are many buyers even for the little children ...........