|Unicef Calls for an End to Child Pornography in Thailand
By Martin Barillas
October 11, 2010
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on October 11 urged the Thai government to crack down on child pornography, which is widely available in Bangkok. "The sale of such material is a blatant and serious violation of children's rights, and it must not be tolerated for another day," said Tomoo Hozumi, the UNICEF representative in Thailand.
The sale of child pornography DVDs and VCDs at street stalls along Sukhumvit Road, a popular shopping venue district for tourists, was highlighted by the Bangkok Post newspaper last week.
Despite the media exposure, there has been no crackdown on the illicit trade. Street stall operators are said to pay the police monthly fees for permission to use public sidewalks for their trade, often in illegal items such as pornography and pirated DVDs and CDs.
"Thailand has made great progress in protecting children from sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse," Hozumi said. "But by not responding quickly to these reports, it is in danger of damaging its reputation as a country that is working hard to stop the exploitation of children." Selling pornographic material is a criminal offence in Thailand carrying a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a maximum fine of 6,000 baht (200 dollars).
Prostitution is also illegal in Thailand, but the sex trade is ubiquitous in certain districts of Bangkok and beach resorts such as Pattaya.
Elsewhere in Asia, sex tourism and child pornography are rampant. For example, Rev. Shay Cullen - an activist Catholic priest in The Philippines - has long led a campaign against both of these. A recent demonostration at Olapongo City by Rev. Cullen and supporters focused on the prostitution of minors and official indiffierence and complicity in the corruption of minors. Rev. Cullen is the founder of PREDA.org - a nonprofit dedicated to ending the abuse of children.
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