One in ten tourists ‘has seen signs of child sex abuse’

One in ten Swedes who have visited a country outside Europe in the past three years have seen indications of tourists sexually abusing children, a new report suggests.

Pollsters from Synovate Temo questioned 1,028 randomly selected Swedes. Of the approximately 400 people who said they had travelled outside Europe in the past three years, 10 percent said they had seen signs that tourists were sexually abusing children.

Of those who had seen indications that children were being abused, nine out of ten admitted to the pollsters that they did not do anything about it. Only a few of those questioned said they reported the incident to the police or confronted the suspected abuser.

In nine percent of those cases in which people said they had seen signs of child abuse, the suspected abuser was Swedish.

The poll was commissioned by the Swedish branch of ECPAT, an international network that campaigns against child sex exploitation. ECPAT spokesman David Lagerlöf told The Local that Sweden needed to place a greater focus on child sex tourism.

“In contrast to child pornography and trafficking, the focus on this has fallen away recently,” Lagerlöf said.

“Swedes who commit these crimes outside the country currently do not run a large risk of prosecution,” he said.

Swedish law allows prosecution of Swedes who commit sexual offences against children while abroad, but the law has been applied “very seldom.”

“There have only been two convictions in Sweden related to the child sex trade abroad,” said Lagerlöf. He said that more could be achieved with more action from tourists.

“The advice one can give to tourists who suspect somebody of sexually abusing a child is to either go to the local police, or if the abuser is Swedish to make a report to the Swedish police. They can also make a report via Ecpat’s online reporting service,” he said.