Following the recent arrest of an Australian man in East Bali charged with molesting two under-aged boys as reported last week in the article [Australian Held on Child Sex Charges], there is growing evidence of a crackdown on sexual predators who prey on children in Bali.
U.S. Homeland Security Agency Joins the Battle
Ms. Theresa A. Nibblet, the Program Manager, Foreign Operations for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration & Customs Enforcement Division told a regional seminar in Singapore on Thursday, January 15, 2004, that the U.S. Government is looking into the possibility that a child prostitution ring may be operating in Bali.
According to reports in the Indonesian-language Kompas, the U.S. started to take a closer look at child prostitution in Bali based on information received by their office.
Over the past few years under a program called Protect Act, the U.S. has assisted in the overseas apprehension of 7 U.S. citizens involved in the criminal exploitation of children. In Asia, international cooperation by law enforcement officials resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of a 69-year old American, Michael Clark, in Cambodia for 30 years for child-sex related crimes.
ASEAN Traveler's Code
A meeting among tourism officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and concerned non-governmental agencies concluded on Friday, January 16, 2004, and resulted in a draft resolution of the ASEAN Traveler's Code (ATC). That Code calls on travelers to consider people's rights, particularly the rights of women and children, and be mindful of the activities they undertake and the businesses they support. The Code asks the public to "help prevent the abuse and exploitation of people" placing particular emphasis on the need to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children.
Plans are for the ATC to be distributed through travel agents, airlines, and immigration check points across the region.
According to data cited by Mr. Ahmad Sofian, Executive Secretary of the Center for the Study of Child Protection quoted in the Jakarta Post, there are an estimated 71,281 working as registered prostitutes in Indonesia, 60 percent of which are young girls between the ages of 15 and 20 years. Mr. Sofian also cited the sexual abuse of children on the island of Batam where some 3,000 visitors from nearby Singapore and Malaysia visit every week. He said that there are an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 sex workers operating on Batam under the age of 18.
Child Wise Report Highlights Bali
During the same meeting, the Director of the non-governmental group Child Wise released a report entitled "Bali: A Mecca for Child Sex."
Child Wide Director, Ms. Bernadette McMenamin, indicated that the recent arrest of the man in Karangasem only began to suggest the scope of Bali's child-sex problem. According to McMenamin, "There has been evidence of pedophiles traveling to Bali since the 1920s. This (Karangasem) is a very poor area of Bali and has always been vulnerable and since the bombing it is even more vulnerable to these crimes."
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