Travelling child sex offenders look for opportunities and travel where they perceive the lowest risk.
There have been a few successful convictions of child sex offenders in Cambodia and UK. But, many offenders go scot-free. Successful convictions would send out a clear message to the offenders and could bring a stop to children being abused, said Christine Beddoe, presently serving as special adviser on children to the British joint parliamentary committee on the Modern Slavery Bill.
Beddoe, who was in Goa to attend a consultation, shared her observations on the problems of prosecuting travelling sex offenders, focusing on cases of British sex offenders travelling to India.
The consultation had thirty participants that comprised NGOs working for protection of children such as Caritas Goa, Centre for Responsible Tourism, CRG, Jan Ugahi from Goa, Vikas Samvad from Madhya Pradesh and Equations - Bangalore.
She stressed on the need for better collaboration and cooperation to link together and share information by creating a central hub for information, protocols and contracts in tourism destinations to combat the sexual exploitation of children. To have systems in place for rapid response and lastly to treat this as an organized international crime.
"Between 2011-2012, 66 Britons were arrested for child abuse with a number of them holding teaching/volunteer positions when traveling abroad."
Another trend, she said, is the setting up of orphanages, where the child sex offender first builds a good profile within the community and once trust is built up, the abuse begins. These orphanages are often set up on the fringes of tourism destinations, but, attract the friends and acquaintances of the offender.
Nishtha Desai of CRG voiced her concern regarding the difficulties of prosecution and the need for collaboration among NGOs, media, tourism industry and government.
She stated that it was 25 years since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - an opportune time to take stock of the situation and collaborate to strengthen child protection mechanisms.
Aditi Chanchani, EQUATIONS -Bangalore spoke on the various code of conducts that exist for the protection of children in tourism.
She stressed the need for proper implementation of these codes both in letter and spirit at the state and national level.
Fathima Balambid of Jan Ugahi, the NGO concentrated in South Goa and Fr Savio Fernandes, Centre for Responsible Tourism, also spoke about the role played by their organizations.
Suzana de Souza, Childline, remarked that even though cases are booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which makes sexual offences as non-bailable offences, bail is still granted to such offenders.