Yesterday James put up what is below on Facebook:
Desi Olson's photos
1-An estimated one million children are forced to work in the global sex industry every year
2-The global sex slavery market generates a $39 billion profit annually
3-Selling young girls is more profitable than trafficking drugs or weapons
Celebrities are taking part in Real Men Don't Buy Girls campaign. Be part in this campaign and spread awareness...
It is scarily interesting for me to see this and I am impressed that James took note and put it up. Fine, he is a photographer and is probably led by Olson’s work. At least that is my guess. It is also one of the kinds of surprising and occasionally diversionary items that Catharine and James include. This, as with others, received little attention.
So what am I getting uppity about then? Story time: In the mid-1980s UNICEF began looking at what they refer to as ‘Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances’ (CEDC). My then wife was an academic looking at child labour in particular and part-time Child Labour Officer of the Anti-Slavery Society (now Anti-Slavery International) which is the oldest human rights organisation in existence and contributed very much to the end of slavery. They have since worked with what are considered modern forms of slavery including the sexual exploitation of children. Anyway, she was asked to take on writing reports on various aspects of CEDC. I was specialising in street children in those days, so my work went toward that report, her normal work put the child labour report together and then there was work compiling the report on the sexual exploitation (and abuse) of children. Unlike the campaign shown above implies, it is as likely to be boys as girls, newborn babes in arms (oh yes, there is a market for that!) to young adults.
Out of the latter a later by-product was that she wrote a book The sexual exploitation of children by Judith Ennew, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1986. It also appeared as L’Exploitation Sexuelle des Enfants, Éditions Eshel, Paris, 1987. For my sins, you will find my name accredited in the foreword. I shared a lot of that work in that I went out looking for sources of (illegal) child pornography, where child prostitutes could be found and other equally sordid details I do not wish to go into. Whilst I bought the publications (later incinerated) some of which I walked through UK and other countries’ customs with them in my hand luggage, I most certainly did not use any of the other services. That was the mid-1980s. The book was highly influential and there was a great deal of spin-off, including governmental actions. However, as with most things governments do, the interest was short lived. Today Desi Olson is publicising a campaign on Facebook, etc. How times do not change, it shocks me to say.
Recently a few of you will have picked up my opposition to the issue of smacking children. Sadly, and perhaps unbelievably for some of you, there is a correlation that made all forms of abuse abhorrent and were thus incorporated into the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which has been signed by all nations in the world and is awaiting ratification by two (Somalia and the USA) plus other international agreements I shall not go into.
So what the heck has this to do with Survive France Network? More than you probably think.
Firstly, France has a minister (or should have) who is responsible for children and there should be people employed by government working on this. Remember, not so long ago Luc Ferry, philosopher and former education minister, told a TV chat show that he knew that a former French minister had previously been caught at an orgy with young boys in Marrakech in Morocco. A Moroccan child protection NGO claimed it would file a legal complaint to demand an investigation, since under French law the authorities are able to investigate sex tourism or sex crimes committed abroad. Philosopher and writer Jean-François Kahn, who was on the chat show panel with Ferry told the website Arrêt Sur Images that after the programme, Ferry had told him the name of the former minister but then he also refused to reveal it. Rachida Dati, former justice minister, said that if Ferry knew something he must reveal the facts or else risked being charged with the offence of failing to report a crime. Sadly to say, the story faded away without any action.
I am unaware who Hollande has appointed as minister with responsibility for children, but suspect Najat Vallaud-Belkacem who has the mandate for women possibly has it. Somebody will have it whatever. Why is that so important?
Well, here is the second point. The sex trade is a vastly profitable business as the story James reproduced claims. It is also something children drift into for many reasons, including:
becoming involved through sexual abuse within the family or close environment and later involvement in prostitution,
simply being used unknowingly as infants without either knowledge or the ability to make any form of objection or protest to what is being done to them forcibly,
involvement in exclusively male prostitution of young boys and men as exploration of and the search of their sexual identity, income generation or abuse,
occasional prostitution (outside the main adult ‘sex market’) for a number of purposes including income generation, fun, etc.,
trafficking with an element of forced prostitution prior to international movement of boys and girls,
involvement in prostitution as a way out for victims of trafficking who have found refuge in other countries (including France),
the involvement in prostitution of young immigrants in irregular situations or asylum seekers,
the involvement in prostitution to finance the purchase of illegal drugs, etc.
All of this is likely to be happening not far from where you are. In the smallest town statistically it appears likely that at least a couple of children are being exploited in this way. It is far more common than most people wish to believe. France has attempted to do something about it, in fits and starts, but the Ferry story illustrates what is not really happening. Coincidentally, at the beginning of this week I had a Facebook discussion with an old pal Benedito Dos Santos who was the coordinator for the Movimento Nacional de Meninos e Meninas de Rua (MNMMR), the National Movement of Street Boys and Girls, in Brazil back in the 1980s. At present he is consulting for UNICEF on a 10-year Plan of Action for the whole country and also working on an action-research project about forensic interviews with sexually abused children. Brazil is a country that has done its damnedest to get to grips with the child sex industry, but now they need a new 10-year plan. My wife is about to start an exploratory research on this phenomenon in three or four Swiss cantons for a major international charity. Much of that will be in places people imagine are clean almost to the point of sterility. Beneath the squeaky clean exterior other devils lurk. So imagine what might be happening around you here in France, think of the misery children suffering this exploitation and abuse are undergoing. It is not just the rest of the world, it is everywhere.
James put up the story on Facebook, I told him I thought it belonged on the SFN main site and I am quite sure many of you will wonder why on earth I think that? Well, I simply wish to contribute to more people knowing about this sickening phenomenon, to be able to form an opinion and whilst I am certain very few of you will respond, at least I am sure that a fair few of you will at least read this. I would then encourage you to think about it and even if you cannot do anything to contribute to doing something about it, if you ever have the slightest suspicion you will know it may well be well founded and I would hope act on that suspicion.