'Foreign child abusers operating in Goa'
Panaji: Goa is becoming a child sex trade hub after Thailand's crackdown on its thriving child abuse industry, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao said on Saturday.
"Till recently, Thailand was considered to be the capital of the child sex tourism industry in this part of the world. It is now known how the Thai government, pushed by international child protection organizations, cracked down on the industry in that country," Ferrao said.
"As a result, the lords of the sex trade have been looking out for fresh locations in South-East Asia. India, with her almost magical name, presents herself as an ideal alternative and Goa, which is being presented as a land on a holiday for 365 days, is increasingly seen as the most viable place for such a shift of operations," Ferrao said.
Ferrao was speaking at a two-day seminar here on child sex abuse, co-organised by the Roman Catholic Church-aligned Centre for Responsible Tourism.
Child sex abuse, especially paedophilia, has been a sensitive issue in Goa ever since Freddy Peats, an Indian passport holder of German descent, was arrested and convicted for paedophilia in the late 1980s.
"As it is, India is home to 20 percent of the world's children. It also has the dishonour of having the largest number of sexually abused children in the whole world. The oncoming onslaught of child sex tourism, therefore, can only spell further doom for our nation and, more especially, for our state," Ferrao said.
"The rest of our country perhaps needs to come up with a comprehensive legislation that will effectively deal with this complex problem, both at the national and state levels," he said adding that Goa Children's Act, for the protection of children's rights, must be made more stringent.
"The need of the hour is to press for a legislation that will forcefully declare zero tolerance for child sexual abuse, particularly for tourism-related crimes against children in India," he said.
Goa has a population of 26 percent Christians, a majority of whom are Roman Catholics (RC) and owe allegiance to the influential RC church here.