HUGH RIMINTON: We're talking about child abduction in the camps in the aftermath of this tsunami disaster, the first confirmed case coming out of Banda Aceh, a four year old boy who was actually taken out of a hospital by a couple who were not his parents but claimed to be so. Now, millions of people around the world are familiar with the singer, Ricky Martin. They may not be aware that he has had a foundation devoted to the cause of stopping child exploitation for many years. He joins us now from Miami. "Ricky Martin, what is it that most concerns you about this pernicious business at this time?"
RICKY MARTIN: "Well, this is the biggest problem society is facing at the moment. We're talking about an industry that is moving $7 billion dollars a year. It's something that is happening all over the world. Unfortunately, with situations like this...I'm talking about the tsunami...children become very, very vulnerable. For example, in Thailand 600,000 children that are victims of the tsunami are orphans at the moment and these children will be perfect prey for traffickers. Traffickers abduct them and these children will be forced into prostitution, will be forced into child pornography, and any kind of sexual exploitation is really sad. We need to do something about it and that's why I'm here today. I've been working with this issue for many years now. The Ricky Martin Foundation created a project called 'People for Children' and this is our mission."
HUGH RIMINTON: "If we step back, Ricky Martin, from this particular tsunami disaster and look at it as a global issue that pre-existed the disaster, where are the main flows of children prior to the tsunami?"
RICKY MARTIN: "It's incredible but it's...I'm sorry, but can you repeat the question again?"
HUGH RIMINTON: "Yeah. I'm basically trying to find out, if you go before the tsunami, what was the main problem with child exploitation in terms of where the main flows have been?"
RICKY MARTIN: "Exactly. Yeah, it's all over the world. Child pornography is the biggest...pornography and child prostitution is the biggest problem at the moment. A couple of months ago a child...a man was arrested in Latin America for paying $10,000 for having sex with a five month old baby. This is something that needs to be stopped. It's really scarey. What needs to be done? Well, you know, governments and private sectors need to get together. They need to start working with unity and we need to even possibly start to...you know, we need to start creating laws and maybe changing some constitutions out there. It's incredible the work that needs to be done."
HUGH RIMINTON: "Are you satisfied...we're just heard from the UNICEF Executive Director, Carol Bellamy...are you satisfied that the U.N. and those agencies are sufficiently geared up to provide the protection that's needed in the tsunami region at the moment?"
RICKY MARTIN: "They're doing an outstanding job. I'm really happy. Hopefully next Monday I will be traveling to Bangkok with UNICEF. They are helping me get together with law enforcement officers and government officials. Of course, I will be face-to-face and work with the victims and we need to start educating about this issue. Everybody. Everybody is a victim, not only the children but also us as citizens of this planet."
HUGH RIMINTON: "Could this, Ricky, develop into something positive out of this in that it has raised it to a level of knowledge that means that people may be more aware of it, more attuned to it, more able to stop child exploitation of this kind in the future?"
RICKY MARTIN: "Definitely. I've been working with this issue for two years now and people...it's such a dark subject that people tend to go into denial. It's so horrible to even think that a child can be forced into prostitution that sometimes we just want to turn the page and not even think about this problem. Unfortunately, because of this tsunami..unfortunately and/or luckily because of this tsunami, people are aware of this and you don't understand...the People for Children.org website has had so many hits these days. People are wanting and needing to inform themselves of this issue."
HUGH RIMINTON: "Okay, Ricky Martin in Miami. Thank you very much for joining us."
RICKY MARTIN: "Thank you."
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