World gathers in Brazil to reinvigorate fight against sexual exploitation of children
RIO DE JANEIRO - Nearly 3,000 participants from over 125 countries are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to exchange lessons and experiences in the fight against child sexual exploitation, review progress, and reinforce commitments.
“Sexual exploitation leaves children with psychological and at times physical scars, and diminishes their hopes of leading a life of dignity,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “No country or region is immune, and there are no innocent bystanders.”
Sexual exploitation is a violation of a child’s right to care and protection. The Congress will look at various types of sexual exploitation of children, including sexual exploitation in the family, child marriage, sexual exploitation of child domestic laborers, the commercial sex industry, as well as child pornography and sexual exploitation of children in cyber space.
Predators continue to use new tools to target children, including cyber space and new generation mobile phone technologies, and adults can prey on children in chat rooms and use the internet to post or download pornography.
Seven years after the last World Congress in Yokohama, Japan in 2001, which focused exclusively on commercial sexual exploitation of children, the Brazil Congress will also discuss strategies for combating non-commercial forms of child sexual exploitation, including the sexual exploitation of children in their homes, by religious leaders, by teachers, by peacekeepers and by armed groups in war zones.
“Sexual exploitation is the ultimate abuse of power,” said Veneman. “A couple of years ago, I met a 16-year-old girl in Rwanda who asked me a very direct question; ‘What are you going to do to stop the rapes?’ It is a question that we must answer collectively and with a renewed sense or urgency.”
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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