* Some months ago, a man in Central America was arrested for paying $10,000 to have sex with an eight month old baby.
* An estimated 5,000 children are currently involved in prostitution, pornography and sex-tourism in Mexico, AND, Nearly 100 a month fall into the hands of the child prostitution networks which are mafias or organized crime syndicates.
* In Tanzania, in the course of one year, 7% of street children acquired a sexually transmitted disease because of sexual exploitation.
* Thailand- there are about 200,000 children involved in its sex trade and 86% of patrons are local.
*In Campo Grande, Brazil, over 100 young girls are prostituted in sex tourism in 12 brothels- places where girls are bought for periods of one to two weeks.
* An American sex tourist was only sentenced to ten years in jail in Honduras for raping two Honduran boys.
* $7 billion dollars are moved annually within the Trafficking in persons industry - making it the third largest illegal activity of the world
* And- listen to this- it is estimated that two million children around the world, live under this type of sexual bondage.
Sadly enough, the statistics I just gave you represent only a small fraction of the problem the world faces today in the area of sexual exploitation of children.
This is our era's form of slavery- and helping affect its complete abolition is the reason I am here today. Because, despite the clearly serious nature of even a single ONE of these cases, the visibility afforded to this phenomenon is still minimal, and it's danger is not being expressed with sufficient force.
I am here today to talk about recovering lost childhoods and preventing the daily tragedy in the lives of millions of children sold into slavery every year. Imagine a child locked in slavery. A child so overshadowed by exploitation that insomnia, beatings, rape, and violence are part of his or her daily life. This is what happens to children who are trafficked for prostitution, pornography and as playthings by sex-tourists. About 2 million children from all over the world are subjected to this
every year. Some are as young as seven.
Child sex-tourism is spreading on our planet. The demand continues to grow and men fly from one country to another for cheap sex with a child. We must end this demand and protect our children. They are our future.
I just came back from Kolkata India where I've been working with recovering victims for more than two years. They were traumatized but were able to overcome their tragedy. They had recaptured their laughter. I saw a little effort by some spirited people go a long way. We need to supplement their efforts and make them go further. If we work together, we can end this modern form of slavery.
As Martin Luther King said, we have made the world a neighborhood, now it is time to make it a brotherhood.
In an act of faith, I have initiated the People for Children Project as part of the Ricky Martin Foundation-to protect our children and to create a safer world. Come share with me this vision.
Let us transform the tragedies in the lives of these children, to one of hope and joy. Let us move beyond rhetoric and resolutions. Please help us act now. And if you are already fighting this battle, use me as part of your team on our journey of hope.
Child-sex tourism is not just about these 3 words. It is also about demand- about supply- about trafficking in children and sexual exploitation- and it is also about travel. As such, it is not an activity that affects only a few nations. It is, in fact, a human epidemic of international proportions that leaves no region of the world untouched.
There are 3 issues that will be discussed further during today's panel, which I will briefly highlight here......
First, it is imperative that child-sex tourism is understood as an industry that would NOT exist without the demand from adults who are seeking and utilizing children for sexual commercial purposes inside and outside their countries. My Foundation will support initiatives on educating children to resist the demand, law-enforcement officers to understand the demand, and adults to see the consequences of this crime, through training and awareness programs. All of you at the UN can help me in enhancing this activity. Once again, we need your help!
Secondly, it is important to cut off the DEMAND and recognize child-sex tourism and child trafficking as a criminal offense within countries and also across countries. A first obvious step towards achieving this goal- is to harmonize laws, policies, codes of conduct, and many other national and international efforts, so that sexual offenders cannot get away with impunity by traveling abroad for sex with a child. The World Tourism Organization has spearheaded a growing interest in making travel, in all its forms, safe for children everywhere. We HAVE begun a positive process towards the elimination of child-sex tourism and must build on this momentum.
Finally, the only way we can change the world is with cooperation and with group effort. As I said it is impossible to prevent, combat or eradicate child sex tourism in isolation.
We need to step out of denial...this is happening and it is happening everywhere we look, and in places we can't even see...
Coalitions and alliances must be strengthened, where previously absent, bridges must be formed, and whatever differences may exist between nations we must look beyond such divisions and focus on what needs to be our main global concern... the lives of children.
Imagine the fear of a child as young as eight years old, who should be in school, well nurtured, innocent and playful who instead is trafficked, beaten, raped, and whose identity and hope for a bright future has been stolen. The task we are faced with is complicated and challenging- but as leaders and representatives of nations who have the power to set standards and examples, I urge
you all to take strong decisive action in what pertains to these crimes against our most vulnerable citizens...our children. It is my sincere belief that the smallest and most powerless among us, our children, are just as entitled to human rights, health and justice as the strongest among us.
Let us take advantage of this momentum, nurtured by an established and growing movement to end child sex tourism.
Ladies and gentleman, the bottom line is...
This is war, and we need to win, and to win we need to work together.
Let us demonstrate with resolve, that this crime has no place in our world today.
Thank you very much Ricky for all your effort to protect these children. We are here to help you. And we all are very proud of you and love you. God bless you.
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