SAIEVAC, the South Asia regional movement to end violence against children by South Asian governments and Civil Society organisations (NACGs) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, during a virtual briefing organised with ECPAT International on 17 May 2022, agreed to take steps to review and improve their legal and policy frameworks to tackle the growing problem of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
SAIEVAC endorsed the Legal Checklist as a tool to step-up action to harmonise laws in the region by improving national legal and policy frameworks on sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism, along with its online elements. This is a significant development for the South Asia region that joins The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization (AIPA) and The Regional Action Group of the Americas (GARA) where this legal checklist has been already endorsed and used as reference for harmonising legal and policy frameworks, improving cooperation and justice systems. In South Asia, the legal checklist was endorsed as part of the Regional Action Plan to End Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation including Online Safety (CSAE&OS).
The sexual exploitation of children is a global problem that requires global solutions. The legal checklist serves to monitor the progress across the regions and contributes to the Global Progress Indicators – these provide practical guidance for prevention and responses of the sexual exploitation of children. Governments need to step-up action to stop children falling victims through legal and policy loopholes, and ensure effective protection. This is even more urgent now, as the situation has worsened due to the COVID pandemic that created an unprecedented crisis all over the world, significantly magnified in the South Asia region. The circumstances are there to allow sex offenders to gain trust and access victims both online and in the context of domestic and foreign travel.
Some of the key provisions agreed to be addressed through and regional and national actions in South Asia include: