From the Global Post, writer Deena Duzder sheds light on this disturbing trend.
"The recent economic downturn is set to drive more vulnerable children and young people to be exploited by the global sex trade," says Carmen Madrinan, executive director of ECPAT International, the organization that authored the August 2009 report. "The indifference that sustains the criminality, greed and perverse demands of adults for sex with children and young people needs to end."
Increasing poverty in children’s countries of origin and smaller budgets for social services are two of the factors heightening children’s vulnerability. Deterioration of living conditions often compels young people to abandon school in order to contribute to the family income, putting them at risk of seeking livelihood options that lead to their being exploited, according to ECPAT International.
As a result of the current global downturn, hundreds of factories have closed in Thailand, leaving thousands of both Thai and non-Thai workers unemployed. Unemployment is rising at a rate of about 100,000 workers a month and may climb to 1.5 million by the end of the year.
“If you ask me, the government is not correcting the source of the problem,” says Asipong. “It’s just treating the symptoms. Poverty is a big contribution to the problem in Thailand, especially in the countryside. Whether parents or children, both have to struggle to survive.”
Street children and stateless children are extremely vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, says Amanda Bissex, UNICEF Thailand's Chief of Child Protection. "We need to improve law enforcement and the economic welfare of children," she says, "but we also need to address people's attitudes and create an environment where there is zero tolerance for abuse of children, whether in their home country or overseas."
Earlier this year, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes stated in its Global Report on Trafficking in Persons that 79 percent of all global trafficking is for sexual exploitation, one of the world's fastest-growing crimes. The report stated that the proportion of minors involved in the various forms of human-trafficking increased from about 15 percent to nearly 22 percent between 2003 and 2007. This past June, the Obama Administration expanded the U.S. watch list of countries suspected of not doing enough to combat human-trafficking, putting more than four dozen nations on notice that they might face sanctions if their records don’t improve.