An estimated two million children are enslaved in the global commercial sex trade, according to World Vision. This staggering number was presented to church congregants at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on Aug. 10.
Around 120 people from 40 different churches in the New York area gathered with deep interest to find out more about child sex tourism, which has become an increasingly large trade around the world.
Introducing the Child Sex Tourism Prevention Project to the crowd, Jospeh Mettimano, World Vision Senior Policy Advisor for Child Protection in Washington, D.C., explained ways to address the serious crisis of children being sold into prostitution.
Children, as young as 5-years-old, are sold to pay off family debts or forcibly recruited on the street to work in brothels, where they are required to have sex with as many as 30 men each day.
Sex tourists travel to such countries as Cambodia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil to take advantage of the low-cost prostitution and easily accessible children.
The exploited children are deeply scarred physically and emotionally and many acquire diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
World Vision has joined forces with national governments, law enforcement agencies and other organizations to combat child sex tourism.
In addition to laws enforced in the United States that make it illegal for citizens or residents to engage in sexual activity abroad with a child under 18, a three-pronged strategy has also been activated by World Vision, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
First is a targeted media campaign in the above mentioned countries. Aimed to dissuade child sex tourists, the deterrence message is being placed in U.S. airports, television, billboards, airline in-flight videos, magazines and the Internet.
World Vision is also working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help identify child sex tourists for their prosecution and conviction.
Along with messages and law enforcement assistance, the prevention project also works to keep children from being drawn into the commercial sex trade through education, advocacy, and other interventions.
As attendants at Redeemer became more aware of the serious situation, the World Vision advisor encouraged them to contribute to the project to help stop child sex tourism.
To advocate the Child Sex Tourism Prevention Project, go to www.worldvision.org.