source : Agence France-Presse
SYDNEY, Feb 10 (AFP) – Pedophile rings of Australians, Europeans and Americans are operating freely on the Indonesian island of Bali and pretend to adopt or foster poverty-stricken children to abuse them, a new report claimed Tuesday.
Australian child advocacy group Child Wise said children on Bali’s streets had reported networks of thousands of foreign men preying on them, working together and sharing the children.
The Melbourne-based group said Bali had became more vulnerable to pedophiles following the car bombings 18 months ago which claimed 202 lives, including 88 Australians.
“Significant child prostitution industries are created when communities are vulnerable and we felt Bali was particularly vulnerable,” Child Wise national director Bernadette McMenamin told AFP.
The release of the report followed the arrest in Indonesia last month of former Australian diplomat William Brown on child sex charges involving two Balinese boys aged 13 and 15.
About two years ago, HIV/AIDS outreach workers on the resort island said children on the street were talking more about foreign pedophiles, saying they were connected, they knew each other and that they had developed lists of children to target, McMenamin said.
She said there were also reports of pedophiles meeting in the neighbouring island of Lombok to the east of Bali, “abusing kids and hanging out there.”
The group later sent a researcher to the island to interview children, tourists, expatriates, government and tourism officials culminating in a report which has been given to Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison.
“We can sound the alarms and they must act,” McMenamin said.
She said pedophiles were choosing Bali because there had been very few arrests and unlike Bangkok and Cambodia, the child sex industry was hidden.
“It’s much more in the villages, in the community. Pedophiles are moving into communities sponsoring or supporting poor families and exploiting their kids. That’s how they groom,” she said.
“They embed themselves in communities where they feel safe and protected.”
She said the Indonesian government had acknowledged Bali was vulnerable to pedophiles and that child sex tourism was increasing. There is also evidence that some pedophile networks were organising sex tours.
McMenamin said police caught an Australian man last year who was promoting child sex tours to Thailand.
“He received 3,000 calls within two weeks, I think this indicates the level of demand,” she said.
Child Wise said Australians were well known as child sex abusers in southeast Asia and “conservatively estimate” that more than 2,000 travel overseas each year to exploit children.”
Last month the group launched a regional campaign, which has United Nations approval, to educate travellers and tourism officials about stopping the spread of child exploitation.
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