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CHILD PROSTITUTION 'GROWING PROBLEM'

April 20, 2002 · 

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Wellington — New Zealand has a growing problem with child prostitution, trafficking, and pornography, according to a Justice Ministry report.

This followed reports last year that girls as young as 11 were selling sex on Auckland streets, and a warning by a family law barrister in January that child pornography was reaching alarming levels.

The ministry report said that in the five years to 2001 the Internal Affairs Department investigated 380 cases of New Zealanders distributing and trading objectionable material, most of which was child pornography. The number has since grown to 420, with 70 successful prosecutions, and about 30 cases awaiting hearings.

Because of the clandestine nature of child prostitution and trafficking in New Zealand it was hard to gauge numbers involved, but research suggested it was a growing problem, the report said.

Police estimated that there were more than 500 Thai women in Auckland’s sex industry alone. Though it was hard to determine how many were aged under 18, the Human Rights Commission had received calls from health staff reporting incidents of Thai girls, aged under 18, who had been subjected to sexual violence.

The report says that by the time police became involved it was discovered that the addresses given by the girls were false or they had been moved on.

Child trafficking was extremely lucrative and hard for police to investigate because trafficked people were returned to their own country as soon as possible.

There was also evidence that New Zealanders were part of the child sex tourism industry, with New Zealand men in India and Fiji being charged with sexual offences.

The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services was reviewing funding and support for community agencies in Auckland and Christchurch to deal with underage prostitution.

Denise Ritchie, national co-ordinator of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, said there had been a huge increase in the number of children trafficked and in prostitution around the world because of the demand from men.

New Zealand was vigilant about Internet pornography, but needed to be tougher on Kiwi sex tourists in places like India and Thailand. (From the files of the NZPA)

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