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Child sexual exploitation in NZ

UNICEF NZ (The UN Children’s Fund) Media Release

UNICEF calls for better data on extent of child sexual exploitation in NZ

Wellington, 25 November 2008. – On the eve of a major world conference, UNICEF NZ is calling on the Government to devote more resources to uncovering how many children are sexually exploited in New Zealand.

More than 3,000 delegates from over 100 countries are gathering in Brazil for the World Congress III Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, which runs between 25-28 November.

By bringing together a diverse group including government officials, experts, international organisations and adolescents themselves, the three-day conference aims to advance the global agenda to stop the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.

A number of international studies indicate that this sexual exploitation is pervasive, including from child trafficking, exploitation by tourists and travellers, child prostitution, the proliferation of child abuse imagery and internet-related crimes.

UNICEF NZ Executive Director Dennis McKinlay says that sexual exploitation of children is clearly a huge problem around the world.

“A 2006 UN report, for example, estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years of age were believed to have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence and exploitation involving physical contact.

“In May 2006, the Interpol database of child abuse images contained photographic evidence of more than 20,000 children who had been sexually exploited to produce child pornography. The majority of these were new pictures, indicating recent or ongoing exploitation.”

Mr McKinlay says that statistics on the extent of the problem in New Zealand were extremely limited.

“By its very nature, sexual exploitation of children is a furtive and secretive matter. We need to cast light on the problem in order to protect vulnerable children.

“If we are as a country to come up with coherent and effective ways stop child sexual abuse, we must first know the size of the problem. Without accurate information government will not be able to devote the necessary resources to take appropriate action on behalf of children.”

Mr McKinlay praised the Department of Internal Affairs for its efforts to protect children worldwide by developing computer software that tracks down traders of child sex abuse images. The Department’s Censorship Compliance Unit won a national award for its work earlier this year.

The World Congress III is jointly organised by UNICEF, ECPAT, the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Government of Brazil.

ENDS

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