TNN | Jul 9, 2011
PANAJI: Expressing concern over the grave threat posed by child sex
tourism, archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao has called for
comprehensive legislation and a strong mechanism that will forcefully
declare zero tolerance for child sexual abuse.
"The magnitude of an already existing internal problem and the
prospect of its escalation to pandemic proportions with the onslaught
of sex tourism should make everyone sit up and take serious note," he
Citing the example of Thailand, which he said has recently cracked
down on the child sex tourism industry, Ferrao urged the state
government to follow suit and bring an end to the menace in Goa.
"The lords of the sex trade have been looking out for fresh locations
and India, presents herself as an ideal alternative. Goa, which is
being presented as a 365-day holiday destination, is increasingly seen
as the most viable place for such a shift of operations," he said.
The archbishop was speaking at the inaugural function of the two-day
State Consultation on 'Protecting Children in Tourism: Role of the Goa
Children's Act 2003'. The consultation will see participation from
various NGOs and children's organizations.
"India is home to 20% of the world's children. It also has the
dishonour of having the largest number of sexually abused children in
the whole world," Ferrao said. The archbishop warned that "the state
was heading for doom if it did not take urgent steps to curb the
onslaught of child sex tourism". "Most certainly there are millions of
unreported cases of child prostitution and sexual abuse, shrouded
behind a veil of silence, shame and secrecy. What is being done about
all this?" he questioned.
Director of Child Rights Goa, Nishtha Desai lamented the watering down
of the provisions of the Act through amendments in 2004 and 2005.
"Terms like 'shall' have been changed to 'may', making many of the
provisions non-binding," Desai stated. She bemoaned that convictions
produced under the Act were nil.
Recalling the first paedophilia conviction in Goa, Desai said, "Freddy
Peats, who was running a children's shelter was in the possession of
over 2,000 child pornography photographs. Some studio developed the
photographs for him, but did not report the matter."
She called for budgetary allocation and continuity in implementation
of the Act. "Implementation should not be dependent on officials," she
An illustrated children's booklet on the GCA was released on the
Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi
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