Widespread Child Prostitution Reported

1 Million Involved in Latin America, Official Says

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, MAR. 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- At least 1 million Latin American children prostitute themselves annually, a Covenant House official said.



Bruce Harris, the agency´s regional director for Latin America, also reported that no Central or South American government has complied with the commitments assumed five years ago in Sweden, in the first World Congress Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children.

During a forum held here in preparation for the second World Congress on this problem, experts and nongovernmental-organization members of the region analyzed the situation and grave consequences of "abuse, incest, prostitution and child pornography, as well as sexual tourism with minors, and the sale and trafficking in children for sexual purposes."

"The panorama is pitiful because economic globalization has impoverished the majority of nations of the area and so facilitated an increase in child prostitution," they added in a statement.

The Children´s Rights Convention was signed by 119 nations in 1991, with the official commitment to stop sexual exploitation in their respective territories. The countries reiterated their commitment in 1996, when they signed the Declaration Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

However, the results are either nonexistent or terrible, Harris said, as the number of minors who prostitute themselves has risen considerably over the last two years, impelled in many cases by the parents and relatives of those subjected to misery, who find in this practice their only means of subsistence.

"The sexual exploitation of minors has reached such a point that we just discovered, for example, a network that prostituted Central American girls in Tapachula, Mexico," the group that met in Costa Rica said.