The abuse of children is not constrained by borders

With child exploitation rife among aid workers and tourists, better safeguarding by recruiters and governments is vital.

When sex offender Richard Huckle wrote an abuse manual entitled “Paedophiles and poverty: child love guide on how to select deprived victims and avoid detection”, he boasted that “impoverished kids are definitely much easier to seduce than middle-class western kids”.

It may seem unfair to mention a notorious criminal like Huckle alongside those implicated in the current aid scandal. Yet there are common structural problems exposed by these types of offences, which have contributed to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

Perpetrators may not plan to go abroad to abuse children but, when in situ, they may take advantage of the chaos of a humanitarian crisis and the fact that children are already being exploited. Huckle began abusing children on his gap year in south-east Asia and continued to do so for nine years.

Abuse of children happens in a “blindspot” for authorities – we don’t even have accurate data. A 2015 freedom of information request by Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (Ecpat) to the Foreign Office revealed that 154 British nationals were detained overseas for child sex offences. Yet such incidents are only recorded if the local police or the suspects themselves report them to the embassy.

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Photo credit : Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters