>UN expert slams India, Cambodia, Thailand over sex tourism

>AFP/File Photo: Sex workers wait for clients in front of bars in Patpong street in central Bangkok…

Friday March 14, 2008

GENEVA (AFP) – India, Cambodia and Thailand are not doing enough to protect children against the risks associated with sex tourism for fear of damaging their economies, a UN human rights expert charged on Friday.
Juan Miguel Petit, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of children, said authorities in these countries are often not willing to tackle the issue of children’s sexual exploitation for tourists’ benefit.
“Sometimes there are big pressures on governments, explicitly or implicitly, when there are enormous touristic activities going on, making millions of dollars,” he told journalists.
“Some interests see the limitation on the sexual market as a limitation for their earning of money,” he added.
He denounced this “insane tourism that puts at risk the lives of hundreds and hundreds of children,” saying it was against the public interest in such countries.
In general, Asia “continues to be a very difficult, alarming place” as far as human trafficking is concerned, Petit said.
Police often appear unconcerned about the scale and gravity of the problem, he charged.
“They accept this kind of crime in a passive way, as if their job was only to chase bank robbers,” he said.
Many convicted Western sex offenders are drawn to Southeast Asia for its perceived laxness in terms of child sex.
British former pop star Gary Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was jailed for three years in Vietnam in 2005 for molesting girls aged 11 and 12.
He fled Britain for Southeast Asia, initially Cambodia, in 1999 after serving half of a four-month prison term for possession of child pornography.
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