Firms not do­ing enough to pre­vent child abuse: NGOs

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY GRACE TING- ANN LEE

Cit­ing the In­ter­net as the main por­tal for youth sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in Tai­wan, NGOs stated yesterday that In­ter­net cor­po­ra­tions are not do­ing enough to alert author­i­ties to sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion that could lead to chil­dren be­ing ex­ploited.

“Many com­plaints are re­lated to the LINE app, yet LINE re­fuses to pro­vide data that we re­quire,” said Wang Shu-fen ( ) from the Gar­den of Hope Foun­da­tion ( ) , who stated that in­ves­ti­ga­tion and col­lec­tion of ev­i­dence through the In­ter­net is dif­fi­cult. Although there is a re­spon­si­bil­ity for online com­pa­nies to co­op­er­ate with po­lice by keep­ing rel­a­tive in­for­ma­tion, many com­pa­nies do not co­op­er­ate.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted from June to Au­gust this year by the foun­da­tion, the ques­tion­naires were filled in by 69 sex­u­ally ex­ploited chil­dren and youth, show­ing that the main way they were lured into sex­ual ex­ploita­tion is via the In­ter­net. Over 43 per­cent of the ex­ploited chil­dren have used in­stant mes­sag­ing soft­ware, while 24.6 per­cent have used online dat­ing sites and 11.6 per­cent have vis­ited sex-re­lated web­sites. The sta­tis­tics stated that over 80 per­cent of those sur­veyed have been in­volved in paid acts of in­de­cency.

Wang stated that “these chil­dren are not only fac­ing sex­ual ex­ploita­tion,” but many other ex­ploita­tions in the in­dus­try, in­clud­ing be­ing sex­u­ally ha­rassed or sex­u­ally as­saulted, threat­ened, phys­i­cally harmed, im­pris­oned and more. Other NGOs present in­cluded End Child Pros­ti­tu­tion in Asian Tourism Tai­wan (ECPAT,

), Taipei Women's Res­cue Foun­da­tion ( ) and The Men­non­ite Good Shep­herd Tai­wan ( ).

Since the pass­ing of the Child and Youth Sex­ual Trans­ac­tion Preven­tion Act ( ) 20 years ago, meth­ods in tar­get­ing youth to ex­ploit have shifted to the In­ter­net, ac­cord­ing to NGOs present at the press con­fer­ence.

“About 26 per­cent of the chil­dren were forced or tricked into en­ter­ing the in­dus­try,” Wang said. “Al­most one third of our cases in­volved drugs.” The foun­da­tion stated that many law­break­ers use drugs and money to en­tice and con­trol the chil­dren. Many chil­dren are also men­tally dis­abled, 13.8 per­cent have at­tempted to com­mit sui­cide, 12.3 per­cent have had a men­tal ill­ness, while up to 81.3 per­cent of the chil­dren have never felt loved and 70.3 per­cent have sel­dom or never felt valu­able.

Ac­cord­ing to Min­istry of Health and Wel­fare, the num­ber of chil­dren and youth res­cued from sex­ual trans­ac­tions has de­creased from 573 peo­ple in 2000 to 263 peo­ple this year. How­ever, that does not mean the num­ber of ac­tual vic­tims have de­creased as the meth­ods by which young peo­ple are ex­ploited are chang­ing, the NGOs pointed out.

The Sex­ual Trans­ac­tion Preven­tion Act was amended in Jan­uary this year, chang­ing “pun­ish­ing” to “pro­tect­ing” the chil­dren and youth, giv­ing more re­spon­si­bil­ity to author­i­ties and online com­pa­nies. The name of the act also changed from “sex­ual trans­ac­tions” to “sex­ual ex­ploita­tion.”

To pre­vent chil­dren and youth from en­coun­ter­ing sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, NGOs called on peo­ple to pro­mote the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing the young, value the needs of chil­dren and youth and pre­vent them from be­ing forced into the sex in­dus­try lured by money and drugs.

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