Mrs. Kim Barrow Hosts National Symposium on CSEC Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 26 August 2010 00:00
Organizers of National SymposiumIt is one of the worst forms of modern day child labour and many Belizeans blind their eyes and deafen their ears to the fact that not only does it exist but it might be prevalent in our society. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is sexual abuse by an adult accompanied by remuneration in cash or in kind to the child or third person(s).

Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children, is hosting a two-day National Symposium on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children on Wednesday and Thursday, August 25 and 26, to raise awareness and prompt action against these acts. The event is being held at the Radisson, and on Wednesday it was well attended and participation was extreme. There were representatives from all stakeholder agencies, including the education sector, law enforcement, Judiciary, business sector, churches, media and other child care organizations. Mrs. Barrow says that the turnout is motivating. She said, “This shows that we are finally ready to face this problem.” The keynote speaker for the opening ceremony was Hon. Eden Martinez, Minister of Human Development and Social Transformation. Minister Martinez has been a lifelong social worker and is committed to the fight against CSEC.

The Symposium is featuring four special technical presenters. They are Begona Arellano, Noortje Denkers, Carol Smolenski and Diana Shaw. Arellano is a national of Spain and a Child protection Specialist in UNICEF’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. She has a Masters Degree in Humanitarian Assistance and Rural Development. Denkers is an expert on children’s rights in the area of child labour and sexual exploitation. She is currently based in Costa Rica as Project Official with the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Smolenski is the Executive Director and one of the founders of End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA). She was the Project Director for the New York City Community Response to Trafficking in New York. She has spoken about the issue at conferences for the New York City Council, United States Congress and the United Nations. Shaw is the Chairperson of the Child Development Foundation of Belize. She is an attorney and she drafted the Legal Information Manual for the Legal Information Bureaus of the Government of Belize/UNDP. She conducted Vulnerability Analysis of the Child Protection System and Juvenile Justice System in Belize for UNICEF.

According to an overview of the course, 40-50% of the 1.39 million persons involved in forced commercial sexual exploitation are children. It also states that because of the popularity of Central America and the Caribbean for tourism the demand for sex slaves is high. Victims of commercial sexual exploitation experience severe physical and psychological trauma. They are at high risk of teenage pregnancy and contracting an STD like HIV. They often struggle with substance abuse and develop low self esteem, guilt and depression. CSEC is a low visibility crime and it is very difficult to grasp how prevalent it actually is in Belize; however, it is happening here. Mrs. Barrow says that the goal of the Symposium is for the Development of a National Plan of Action against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. The Symposium is being held under the theme “Preserving Innocence and Dignity”.