Wednesday, May 10, 2006

'Sexual exploitation must not be tolerated'

Following a study in Liberia Save the Children UK has found the exploitation of children by humanitarian workers, peacekeepers and local businessmen to be prolific. The study was conducted in temporary camps for those displaced by the civil war and amongst those recently repatriated to their towns and villages of origin after the end of the war.

Despite commitments made in 2002 by NGOs, the UN and peacekeepers to improve the worldwide monitoring of recruitment and staff conduct, vulnerable children are still exchanging sex for basic necessities such as money to attend school or food to feed their families.

During the study in Liberia the children and members of the community consistently reported that a high proportion of girls in their camps were being sexually exploited by adults in positions of power. They reported that adults providing humanitarian assistance, peacekeepers and wealthy individuals regularly buy under-age sex.

Save the Children UK Chief Executive Jasmine Whitbread today emphasized that this must not be tolerated.

“ This cannot continue. It must be tackled. Men who use positions of power to take advantage of vulnerable children must be reported and fired.

More must be done to support children and their families to make a living without turning to this kind of desperation.”

Save the Children welcomes the new Liberian Government’s commitment to stamp out corruption and rape, and urges President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf to tackle the high levels of sexual exploitation of children.

Representatives of Government Ministries, International NGOs, UN agencies and UNMIL representatives in Liberia have gathered last Friday to urgently and collectively address this issue.

In March 2006 a collective of international NGOs, of which Save the Children is a key partner, launched a new set of materials (“Keeping Children Safe”) to enable all NGOs to attain high standards of child protection.

Source: Save The Children

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