Tolerance of child sex crimes in Latin America thwarts convictions - rights group - TRFN
By Anastasia Moloney
BOGOTA, Dec 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Latin America must tackle a social tolerance of children being sold for sex work and the growing online sex trade to boost low conviction rates for child sex trafficking, a rights group said.
ECPAT International, which campaigns against the sexual exploitation of children, said there are on average just nine convictions each year for child sex exploitation, including trafficking, in any Latin American country.
"In most countries the amount of prosecuted cases that have lead to convictions in the last year remains in the single digits," said Fabio Gonzalez, ECPAT International's Latin America coordinator.
Some Latin American children are trafficked for prostitution in and outside of their own country and others for pornography. Street children are particularly at risk of getting caught in sex trafficking rings.
"Commercial sexual exploitation of children is not seen as a problem in Latin America," Gonzalez told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview in Panama City.
"It is socially tolerated, especially in rural areas. People judge the child and not the man who is buying sex."
There are no reliable data on the prevalence of children being sexually exploited in Latin America. Anti-trafficking groups estimate two million children are sold for sex every year, in a crime that all too often goes unpunished.
"There's not a single country in Latin America with a centralised data system to measure the extent of child sex exploitation," Gonzalez said. Continuación...