Firms not doing enough to prevent child abuse: NGOs
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.