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Thousands of Australians are Involved in The Child Sex Industry

By Phil Mercer in Sydney

A 10-year international study has revealed that thousands of Australians are involved in the child sex industry.

The Child Sex Trade Report shows an alarming growth in paedophilia, child pornography and child sex tours by Australian men overseas.

Paedophiles... are being flushed out of schools and institutions in Australia and they see children accessible and vulnerable overseas

Bernadette McMenamin

It makes 29 recommendations to the government on how to improve investigations of child sex offences and provide help to the children involved.

The study, by the charity Child Wise, paints a bleak picture for the many children caught up in the sex trade in Australia and elsewhere, notably in Asia.

It claims that trafficking in child prostitutes has risen in recent years and says that many youngsters end up in Australia after being sold for sex in countries like Cambodia.

International problem

The survey says a symptom of the trade is the explosion in child pornography on the internet, which in many cases continues unhindered.

The problem is an international one. The author of the report, Bernadette McMenamin, says that despite recent efforts to clamp down on paedophiles in Australia, many serial child abusers simply go elsewhere to carry out their activities.

"We estimate that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Australians travelling overseas to sexually abuse children," she said.

Paedophiles increasingly use the internet

"Some of them are sex tourists who are pretty indiscriminate in who they have sex with but they are certainly going overseas on sex tours.

"There are other paedophiles who... are being flushed out of schools and institutions in Australia and they see children accessible and vulnerable overseas."

The report calls on ministers to re-establish a specialist police unit set up to investigate Australians carrying out sex crimes abroad which was closed down last year.

A police spokesman said its commitment to catching paedophiles remained high and that a greater co-operation between international agencies was making a difference.

Charities like Child Wise in Australia say a greater effort is needed.

They believe work by law enforcers is only scratching the surface of Australia's multi-million-dollar child sex trade, leaving the perpetrators to remain at liberty and their victims facing more misery.

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