Enhancing law enforcement responses to child sexual exploitation

RCG’s Panadda (Yui) Changmanee contributed a rigorous and insightful baseline study to a major UN project to improve law enforcement responses to child sexual exploitation in the Mekong sub-region.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime commissioned Project Childhood (2010–2014) to enhance law enforcement capacity for national and transnational action to identify and effectively act upon traveling child-sex offenders in the Mekong sub-region. The project, which was supported by the Australian Government, aimed to provide an effective response to safeguarding vulnerable children and bringing perpetrators of child sexual exploitation to justice.

At the project start-up phase, Yui conducted a baseline study that focused on the four targeted countries — Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. She applied her deep knowledge of complex human trafficking and child protection issues to map out the specific forms of child sex tourism that were taking place in each country. Yui analyzed the unique problems of child sexual exploitation in those countries, where children are not only victims in their country of origin, but are also trafficked across borders. The results were used to inform the development of project activities.

Yui’s study examined how the convergence of a number of factors — extreme poverty, lack of sustainable livelihoods, gender inequality and attitudinal liberalization — have all contributed to a boom in the so-called “sex-tourism” industry in the region. In Thailand in particular, and increasingly in Cambodia and Vietnam, child sexual exploitation has been closely linked to the ever-growing tourism industry, which draws large numbers of foreign, regional and local travellers to its cities, beach resorts and historical sites each year.