Great outcry – limited effect

Great outcry - limited effect

"The world needs to know what is happening". Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel was outraged. 20 years ago the world conference against sexual exploitation of children started. A milestone. But the situation has become even worse.

An outcry of indignation went through Europe: while delegates from 122 countries gathered in Stockholm at the end of August 1996 for the first World Conference against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Belgian child molester Marc Dutroux provided an object lesson in what is being inflicted on minors worldwide. When Queen Silvia of Sweden closed the congress five days later, delegates commemorated the two girls Dutroux murdered under the symbol of the broken rose.

Never before had the billion-dollar business of child prostitution and pornography, sexual abuse and the dark networks of criminals been so much in the public eye. "We must first ensure that the sexual exploitation of children is criminalized worldwide and without exception," said German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, who also traveled to Stockholm. He also called for cross-border prosecution, which "must be made easier than it is at the moment".

Mixed results

20 years and several international and national conferences later, the results are mixed: On the one hand, laws have been tightened and police measures have been strengthened. Thus, since 1998, the sexual abuse of children is no longer considered just a misdemeanor, but a crime. Since 2003, the possession of child pornography has also been punishable in Germany. And since 1993, Germans can also be legally prosecuted if they abuse children abroad. But experts consider the law a toothless tiger, with only a few German offenders convicted so far.

Awareness among tour operators also seems to have grown. More and more of them have signed the "Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation in Tourism". The topic is always present at the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin. In addition, a network of aid organizations has emerged to raise awareness of the problem and help victims.

On the other hand, growing tourism, huge refugee movements, poverty and uprooting in developing countries and social problems in Eastern Europe are creating new breeding grounds for sexual offenses against children. Young girls from Africa or Romania and Bulgaria are sold into German brothels. Experts fear that many unaccompanied minor refugees are also being forced into prostitution and abused.

Internet as a Hamdelsplatz

The Internet has increasingly become a trading place and meeting place for pedophiles. For example, the rapid development of new technologies and communication media brings new forms of exploitation such as the abuse of children in front of the webcam.

There are hardly any exact figures on the extent, the number of unreported cases is high: "More children than ever before are affected by sexual exploitation and the phenomenon occurs in all parts of the world," states in any case the Global Study on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism, which was initiated by the aid organization ECPAT International and published in May.

"About 220 million girls and boys under the age of 18 are victims of sexual violence every year," estimates the children's aid organization terre des hommes. "1.8 million children are forced into prostitution and pornography every year." Tens of thousands of consumers of child pornography fuel the demand for pornographic depictions involving children and encourage the abuse that is always associated with it.

Business worth billions

It's a billion-dollar business: According to estimates, the turnover from child prostitution and child pornography is six billion euros. In Germany alone, terre des hommes estimates there are about 50.000 regular consumers. 100 new Internet sites with child pornography content are created every day.

The Internet has made possible dimensions and marketing channels that could not have been foreseen in Stockholm 20 years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.