France urged to crackdown on childsex tourists
PARIS, Sept 9 (AFP) - France was urged in an official report issued Thursday to sign bilateral accords with countries frequented by French sex tourists like Brazil and Cambodia in order to fight the sexual exploitation of children.
In its report, a working group set up by the government also singled out Albania, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Romania and Senegal as target countries where sex tourism is a problem.
“These conventions would map out a framework for judicial and police cooperation in order to crack down on sex crimes involving minors committed by French nationals,” the report said.
The eventual accords would also fight against poverty, one of the driving forces behind child prostitution, by calling on French companies in the countries concerned to “offer apprenticeships to children under the age of 14”.
Up to three million children are victims of the sex tourism trade worldwide, with most of the “tourists” coming from developed countries like Australia, Japan, South Korea, the United States and European states, according to UNICEF.
Controversial French writer Michel Houellebecq brought the issue into the public eye here in 2001 with his novel “Plateforme” (Platform), which features a character called Michel who travels through Thailand as a sex tourist.
The working group of doctors, lawyers, tourism professionals and members of non-governmental organizations suggested that Paris mount a public awareness campaign among French nationals living or travelling abroad about sex tourism.
The group also said more needed to be done to punish those guilty of child sex crimes and suggested that France’s strategy against the child sex trade be implemented on a Europe-wide scale.
The report noted progress made in efforts to fight the troubling phenomenon, including the passing of legislation in several countries including France that allows their nationals to be tried for sex crimes committed abroad.
But the report, delivered to Family and Children Minister Marie-Josee Roig and junior tourism minister Leon Bertrand, noted that convictions were “very rare” due to a lack of police cooperation and evidence from the victims.
The working group was led by French film star Carole Bouquet, who is the spokeswoman for La Voix de l’Enfant (A Child’s Voice), a federation of 50 groups fighting for children’s rights.
“The protection of French nationals should not mean the protection of French paedophiles” abroad, Bouquet said.
The actress also encouraged better sex education in French schools, saying: “Students learn mathematics and French, but at the same time, they don’t know much about their own bodies, their desires and how to respect others.”
As an example of progress, Bertrand praised a French hotel chain that has barred all minors not accompanied by their parents from its establishments in the Thai capital Bangkok.
Subject: French News