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Friday, 15 September, 2000, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK
Asia's child sex victims ignored
sex bar
Cambodia plans to ban child sex tourists
Children who have been sexually abused in Asian countries are badly neglected by grossly inadequate health and social services according to two United Nations reports.

The research, unveiled in Bangkok found victims of abuse as young as four.

The UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said Asian governments are failing the children caught up in the region's sex industry.

street children
Child prostitutes make money for their families
The report highlights the failure of social services in countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to provide adequate psychological support for child victims of rape and incest, or for those used as prostitutes or in pornography.

While the physical health of the child victims is sometimes dealt with, psychological assistance to help them overcome the trauma of sexual abuse and exploitation is virtually non-existent.

'Shocked'

Nanda Krairiksh, from ESCAP human resources development section the unit which carried out some of the research, says it is essential the psychological problems are dealt with.

"We were quite shocked in terms of the psychological findings."

" We didn't expect them to be so severe," she said.

The reports on the Greater Mekong subregion and South Asia found sexually exploited and abused children often suffer mental problems such as depression, suicidal tendencies and substance abuse.

Taboo subject

While there is some public awareness of sexual exploitation of children, incest and child rape were taboo subjects in Asia which made the problem harder to tackle, she said.


We were quite shocked in terms of the psychological findings

Nanda Krairiksh, ESCAP human resources development
Poverty, lack of education, drug abuse and family problems were listed as contributing factors in the abuse and exploitation of children.

In Cambodia 98% of girls in prostitution are the main providers for their families and in Vietnam 49% of girls in prostitution were victims of prior sexual abuse, the studies found.

Some 80% of sexually exploited children in Thailand were from dysfunctional families and 31% had been victims of sexual abuse.

Many Asian governments would rather ignore the issue than admit they had a problem with sexual abuse and exploitation of children, Nanda Krairiksh said.

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See also:

17 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cambodia deports 'sex slaves'
22 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asia's child sex tourism rising
28 May 99 | Asia-Pacific
Sex tourist jailed in Australia
09 Feb 99 | South Asia
'100 kids abused daily' in Sri Lanka
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