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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Togo child prostitute crackdown
Togolese girl
Poor children are supplied to the labour markets in the capital
Security forces have raided brothels in the Togolese capital, Lome, arresting more than 200 people, reports say.

The operation follows a government statement broadcast on radio stations announcing its intention to tackle the prostitution of children.

Many underage girls were among those arrested in the raid called Operation Knockout, the government says.

The BBC's Ebow Godwin in Lome says child prostitution is becoming an increasing problem in Togo's cities.

Discreet list

Togo's minister for child protection, Agneley Christine Mensah, said those arrested are being take into care and will be helped "to acquire new trades and skills so that they can be integrated into normal social and economic life".

A list was being compiled of those who patronise brothels, she said.

On Friday, Togo's parliament passed a new law making it a criminal offence for parents or guardians to offer their children to traffickers.

According to a recent report by the charity Plan International, sending very young children away to work is considered normal in Togo.

Thousands of Togolese children and young teenagers are supplied to the labour markets in Lome and to nearby Benin, Nigeria and Gabon.

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