11 January 2011
Foreign Sex Tourism to Bali..
I read this the other day and sort of pondered whether to write about it or not. I pondered because writing about how the system fails so enormously might encourage pedophiles to chance their hand in the wild frontiers of child sex tourism that are the poor provinces of Eastern Bali. The most impoverished of the provinces; Singaraja, Buleleng, and Karangasem, are those that are most at risk.
Sadly, according to the report, it is predominantly Australians that are taking advantage of Bali's children and sexually abusing them. The reported figures are the tip of the iceberg as a great many of the outrages perpetrated against these children are never reported nor, if they are reported, ever pursued to prosecution. Nevertheless, this is not exclusively Australian perpetrators as there are offenders from all parts of the globe, including Europe (Germany, France, The Netherlands, to name but a few) and the US.
The problem though is not exclusively one of poverty, although poverty is a significant factor, but rather of apathy and corruption combined with an inordinate amount of red tape from a cumbersome bureaucracy that is not pro-active in protecting and supporting children who have been abused.
There were thirteen foreign pedophiles convicted of child sex offences in the period between 2001 and 2008. This does not seem like a large amount considering that there were more than 200 reported incidents of child sex abuse. A local non-governmental organisation, Committee Against Sexual Abuse, estimates that there are some 150 pedophiles operating on Bali. It does not help that Singaraja does not yet record data relating to pedophiles or child sex crimes.
I appreciate that these crimes can be difficult to investigate and prosecute because not all children or their families are willing to report sexual abuse or suspicions of sexual abuse. I also appreciate that some families unwittingly sell their children into the sex trade in the belief that the "real" intent of the trafficker is to provide an education and a job. Then there are others who perhaps do this knowingly. However, what I cannot understand is why police would not want to investigate pedophilia in a more pro-active way considering that it is a known problem in the areas of Eastern Bali?
Although, in the big scheme of things I am probably less surprised than I should be that one can place a "price" on the violation of a child. Maybe it is just a simple case of everything has its price, and the price to turn a blind eye to the sexual violation of children in impoverished places is undoubtedly not that much.
Is the answer as simple as education and community outreach where men, women, and children are taught that it is not OK to be sexually abused in exchange for food or payment of one's school fees. There is no problem if someone wants to provide you food or fees for school as a gift, but this does not mean that you owe them the innocence of your children to pay off some alleged debt.
It would appear that the modus operandi is now one of "out of sight, out of mind" as pedophiles go further and further away from main urban areas in search of their victims.
What I do not get at the moment, and perhaps this is a lack of research, is why Australia is not more pro-active in pursuing Australian pedophiles wherever they may be found. Australia has laws on its statute books that provide for jail terms of up to 17 years and fines of up to AUD 500,000 for those convicted of child sex offences. The law has been drafted as such that the crime does not have to occur in Australia. The law simply states that anyone who engages in a sexual act with a child under 16 or grooms a child under 16 for sex is guilty of a crime, even where the offence is committed overseas.
The Australian Federal Police website includes a section on Child Sex Tourism and has forms to complete for those who have suspicions about Australians who may have committed a child sex offence overseas.
I am not sure what the point of this post is. It is an issue that bothers me and it is one that I think needs more attention. Perhaps, it is as a father of a young son I cannot fathom such an atrocity happening to him. Perhaps, it is because as an educator I feel a responsibility to ensure that children are safe and know what is acceptable and what is not, after all, our children are our future. Maybe, it is just that getting it out there will get us thinking about it and being more vigilant in our own worlds.