This week the world community responded to children who are sexually exploited
for commercial purposes. Representatives from more than 110 governments and 500 NGOs
have met in Stockholm to discuss the many issues contributing to the sexual exploitation
of children for profit. The conference has endorsed a declaration against the commercial
sexual exploitation of children which commits countries to action.
A Cambodian government delegate, Madam Sochua Leiper Mu, advisor on Women's Affairs
to the first Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, spoke of the intention to build
on the base Cambodia has established in responding to sexual exploitation of its
children. The statement acknowledged the need to work with international organizations
and non-government organizations in furthering the protection of children from this
The nature of the problem of child trafficking requires regional cooperation. World
Vision through its Street Children Project has been promoting inter-country negotiation
and repatriation of trafficked children. Governmental support of the Convention of
the Rights of the Child and the Declaration Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation
of Children will add further strength to bilateral approaches to this crime which
knows no borders.
Developed countries experience problems of the sexual abuses of children for profit
in different forms to those experienced by developing countries. As recent events
in Belgium have shown, the exploitation of children as commodities and objects with
no rights has the power to unify a country in its grief.
Children are the future of a country and need affirmation, protection and opportunity
to develop to their full potential.
World Vision welcomes and supports the declaration as a vehicle to extend the rights
and protection of children. Further, World Vision commends the Cambodian government's
support of the Declaration. We welcome future opportunity to cooperate in service
provision and training to increase the capacity of Cambodia's social services in
meeting the challenge of working with exploited children and families. In Cambodia
as in all countries, the children are the future - let's protect the future.
- Laurence Gray, Manager of the Street Children Project, Phnom Penh.