SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Human rights activists called on Southeast Asian governments on Tuesday to crack down on sex tourism and child trafficking, saying the problem was becoming more rampant.
Experts and rights workers said more women and children in Southeast Asia were being trafficked to feed the appetite of sex tourists.
"There must be a co-ordinated and co-operative effort if we are to succeed in eradicating human trafficking, especially child sex trafficking from this region," said Vitit Muntarbhorn, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on child prostitution.
"It is most timely for ASEAN countries to tackle the issue in view of its recent declaration against trafficking," Muntarbhorn told Reuters.
ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
ECPAT, an international non-governmental organisation working to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children, said there were more than 1 million child prostitutes involved in sex tourism in Asia, of which 300,000 were in Thailand, 100,000 in the Philippines and Taiwan and 40,000 in Vietnam.
"Many of them are tricked into the trade, it is easy to do so because the women and children are young, illiterate, vulnerable and gullible," Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation fighting against human trafficking, told Reuters.
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