‘DOWN TO ZERO’ ALLIANCE

Fighting commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC)

Worldwide, around two million children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Boys and girls are selling their bodies in the streets or in bars, or are sexually exploited through webcams. Free a Girl, Terre des Hommes (alliance lead), Plan Netherlands, Defence for Children – ECPAT and ICCO Cooperation have joined forces, expertise and experience, together with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to eliminate commercial sexual exploitation in eleven countries in Asia and Latin America. The five year programme started in January 2016. Free a Girl is in the lead for Bangladesh and India, and implements the programme in Thailand.

Bangladesh

Background

Worldwide, around two million children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In many cases of sexual exploitation it concerns girls and young women. The surrounding environment they grow up in doesn’t always protect them: women and girls are often seen as subordinate. In addition, in many countries the legislation for protection is not adequate or not enforced. In places such as refugee camps, and during big events like the World Championship football, girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation. And, with an increasing number of people gaining access to the internet, online sexual exploitation of children is also increasing.

Goals

The Down to Zero programme focuses on four strategic goals in order to eliminate commercial sexual exploitation of children in eleven countries:

  • Victims and children who are at risk of sexual exploitation are able to stand up for their rights and thus to protect themselves against sexual exploitation, because they are able to recognize signals of sexual exploitation and can report it. They also play an active role in raising attention for the issue, also among their peers, and in policymaking.
  • The surrounding environment in which the children grow up is safer, offers better protection to victims, and prevents children from (again) becoming victims by raising awareness among the general public about the consequences of commercial sexual exploitation of children – and thereby addressing the taboo and shame that rest on this issue.
  • Governments and the judiciary authorities apply policies, action plans and protocols to fight commercial sexual exploitation of children – and also free funds for it – through lobby, capacity building, advocating for prosecution of perpetrators, and by contributing to developing good mechanisms to refer victims for assistance, and to track their progress.
  • Business market leaders or industry associations (tourism, ICT, transport and mining) are actively involved in the protection of children against commercial sexual exploitation of children, e.g. by lobbying and cooperating on policy around codes of conduct.

Approach

The Down to Zero alliance fights commercial sexual exploitation of children in eleven countries by:

  • Enabling children and young people to stand up for their rights.
  • Helping communities to better protect their children against commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Improving relevant policies and legislation, and their implementation, in each of the eleven countries.
  • Cooperating with the business sector to prevent and tackle sexual exploitation of children, e.g. in tourism.

RESULts

You can find the annual report 2016 and the Baseline report here.

    

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Photo: Terre des Hommes / Bart Coolen