Tourism related child sexual abuse is not
unique to Goa although it is generally projected as a problem
specific to Goa. This is unfortunate as it remains a neglected
issue in other parts of the country. However it is a problem
that needs to be addressed firmly to prevent it from growing
STOP is the acronym for Stop Tourism related
Paedophilia. CRG has been conducting an intensive campaign
in the north coastal belt of Goa against tourism related paedophilia.
In 1996 following the conviction of Freddy
Peats, a paedophile who sexually violated and trafficked children
under the guise of running a shelter there were different
perceptions of the problem of travelling sex offenders. NGOs
believed that the Peats case represented the tip of the iceberg
while the government denied the very existence of this problem.
In November 2000 CRG decided that tourism
related child sexual exploitation could not be just one of
the varied issues that it addressed. A comprehensive campaign
strategy was developed with different messages and modes of
communication targeting different sections of society. CRG
developed group-specific IEC material for:
- Vulnerable children and their parents:
CRG takes street plays to settlements where the migrant
community reside urging them to be vigilant and keep their
children safe. The setting up of booths as Beach Nodal Centres
helps in the identification of children who are vulnerable
and in spotting of suspected offenders.
- Tourists: Recognising that the majority
of tourists who visit Goa disapprove of travelling sex offenders,
CRG appeals to tourists to provide information about travelling
sex offenders. Over the years it has received several complaints
from tourists about suspected offenders. Handouts are distributed
widely, at airports, on the beach and at popular venues
like the weekly flea market.
- The local population: CRG appeals to the
local Goan community not to discriminate against children
of the migrant community and to recognise that society has
a responsibility to safeguard the rights of all children.
Apart from dissemination of IEC material, CRG members attend
gram sabha meetings, mahila mandal programmes, parish meetings
and other citizens' meetings such as Lions' Club, Rotary
Club etc to discuss child protection issues.
- The tourism industry: It has been a challenge
to work with the tourism industry. CRG argues that a Goa
free of travelling sex offenders will in fact attract more
tourists to Goa and will enhance the quality of tourists
who come to Goa. It prominently displays posters in hotels
and shacks. CRG has been promoting the concept of child-friendly
tourism. On 4 June 2006 members of the Travel and Tourism
Association of Goa (TTAG) took a pledge to adopt the Child
Friendly Tourist Code developed by TTAG office bearers.
- The police: Prior to the launch of this
campaign, child rights activists encountered disbelief when
they approached the police with complaints of suspected
travelling sex offenders. Programmes were developed to orient
the police about the issue. The situation has undergone
a favourable change, with the police taking greater cognisance
of such complaints.
Prior to the launch of this campaign
child rights activists encountered disbelief expressed by
police when they approached the police with complaints of
suspected paedophiles. Programmes were developed to orient
the police about the issue. The situation has undergone a
change, with the police taking greater cognizance of such
complaints. Unfortunately two suspected travelling sex offenders
were acquitted by the Children's Court as the witnesses in
both of the cases turned hostile.