More than a million children around the world are exploited by the sex trade each year according to United Nations estimates.
In South America the problem is being fuelled by an influx of sex tourists who are taking advantage of cheaper airline tickets.
Sunday, 20 June, 2004
2100 BST on BBC Two (UK)
Resident British children's charity director Bruce Harris, has spent years tracking down paedophiles in Costa Rica who have used legal loopholes to evade prosecution.
In his fight to protect children from the illegal sex trade he has filmed pimps undercover, set up elaborate stings to trap internet paedophile rings and harangued governments to change laws and act against offenders.
Despite his efforts it is only with international co-operation across borders as well as massive resources and training that more cases like these will be brought to trial and more abuses prevented.
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Men such as Mr Harris are the true heroes in our global society - selfless, dedicated and giving individuals. If we haven't got the means or the opportunity to follow such meaningful paths in our lives, then we should assist such charities in whatever way we are able to - a few hours or a few pounds, a few letters.
I would like to do whatever I can to stop the commercial abuse of people of all ages, in any country in this world, by people who abuse their wealth to shamelessly exploit the sons and daughters of other human beings.
How can such people look themselves in the mirror and be proud of who they are? I am humbled by the efforts of Mr Harris and feel this was an excellent piece of television. In my view the broadcasting of this programme should not just be left at giving it a mark out of ten, it should effect a change in all of our lives to do something about the exploitation of children which we are all aware takes place in our own cities, in our own country and our own world.
Ian Grace, UK
I think it is appalling that all those children are suffering at the hands of many unscrupulous people. Their government needs a mass shake-up, obviously poverty is a key issue and is helping breed these monstrous individuals, so they need to address that problem quickly.
The parents and taxi drivers are just as bad as the paedophiles and should be prosecuted as well.
I think Bruce Harris should be commended in his work for the commitment and dedication in trying to stop child abuse. Well done Bruce.
Belinda Davis, South Wales
Thank you, a great programme.
I have been involved in anti-trafficking charities and rehabilitation in Nepal for a number of years. What is being done in Costa Rica is very good news, but we must do more in the West to crack down on men who prey on young girls abroad.
It is too easy to turn a blind eye as long as it is not happening here. We must also do all we can to support the education of women in developing countries to make sure that choices exist for them, since in Nepal 80% of the girls we bring back from India are illiterate and have very few choices.
When their families cannot give them a dowry and times are hard, especially when the traffickers pose as factory owners looking for bonded labour, it is hard to refuse the offer of 10,000 rupees as "advance wages" for your daughter.
Programmes like this help to educate the public in this country who seem to have little idea of what goes on under their noses in poorer countries.
Sarah Stacpoole, Dorset
Child prostitution is everyone's concern. It is obvious there are people in high places who are involved in most of the countries where it is condoned. A major factor in stamping it out is to ensure the children are given a decent standard of living which means a realistic wage for their parents. As long as ' civilised ' countries such as the U.S. of A. and Britain continue to exploit cheap labour in sweat shops, poverty will ensure these horrendous acts of exploitation will continue.
More power to those who put their lives and the welfare of their own families at risk.
Tamus King, S Yorks
Frankly that chief/head of security man that was filmed who said he didn't support the work of Bruce Harris because he believed he was exaggerating made me sick. No matter how big or small the problem child abuse and child exploitation is still a serious problem and everything should be done to stop it.
Siobhan Green, UK
Brilliant and helpful programme. What a courageous group of people. Thanks for putting together this programme - worth the license fee!
Juliette Lambert, UK
A very enlightening programme showing the dedication of a few people determined to make a difference. Has anyone put up Mr Harris for a Knighthood? He certainly is very deserving.
Mrs Lee Roberts, UK