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Sweden slow to stem child sex tourism

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10:06 CET+01:00
Swedish authorities have failed to tackle the problem of Swedes engaging in sex tourism in foreign countries, according to a new report by child protection agency ECPAT.

"We know of Swedes who are aware of the situation in Sweden but who use cultural differences as an excuse when they are abroad.

"Many view themselves as doing poor children a favour by contributing to their survival," said Helena Karlén, ECPAT's Swedish secretary general.

ECPAT is a network of organisations that enjoys special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

The ECPAT acronym stands for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes.

Child sex tourism, human smuggling and the spread of child pornography are all on the rise in Sweden, according to a report presented by ECPAT International on Monday.

The organisation notes that government authorities in other countries have done much more to inform people that anybody found engaging in child sex tourism abroad will face court charges when they return home.

"In Sweden the state needs to be much clearer about the fact that we do not have the right to consume and purchase the bodies of children abroad," said Karlén.

ECPAT's Swedish secretary general is also critical of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), which has not followed its competitiors' lead by informing its passengers that child sex tourism is illegal.

Karlén calls on the foreign ministry to provide better education on the subject for its employees.

She also chides the defence forces for taking the subject off the schedule.

And Swedish police working abroad lack sufficient training.

In addition, Sweden has neglected to join the UN's world tourist organisation (UNWTO), one of the functions of which is to allow member states to exchange experiences on how best to tackle sex tourism.

"We thinks it's extremely regrettable. It is one of the reasons that the topic of child sex tourism has slipped so far down the agenda that it hardly registers in the Swedish consciousness," said Karlén.

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