The Government’s new action plan against child exploitation

At the beginning of March, the Government released a new action plan in order to protect children against trafficking, exploitation and sexual abuse. 12 million crowns are put into actions to improve the knowledge, the support and protection and of regulations. The action plan and the measures presented shall be put into practice in 2014.

Maria Larsson, the Minister for Children and the Elderly argues in a debate article about the action plan that although there are more to be done within the area of legislation, priority should be given to how authorities and different players work together to make a difference. The work of the County administrative board in Stockholm against trafficking will be increased since it is given a responsibility of coordination in connection with the action plan. The Board is given the task to coordinate, spread knowledge and methods in the work against child sex trade. Its cooperation with industry and commerce, i.e. hotels, taxi companies and restaurants shall be renewed and developed in order to increase the possibilities of identifying children who are exploited.

Other actions included in the action plan aim at educating personnel working with children, develop the cooperation within tourism and with other countries, as well as inform children about the kind of support and help available to them.

Mrs Larsson further argues that fundamentally it all comes down to attitudes of the perpetrators. That is why it’s important to have access to care and treatment for these people, and for those very reasons the Government wants to investigate further to find measures to secure this. The common knowledge must increase in order to achieve change in the long run and there must be an easy way to report human trafficking.

The action plan has been scrutinized by ECPAT that argues that this plan only scratches the surface and lacks the “long-sightedness called for in order to accomplish results”. According to ECPAT, several of the plan’s measures are currently in practice due to previous assignments given by the Government. Instead, this plan should focus on long-term strategies, clear targets and structural changes. ECPAT offers three suggestions both long and short-term based; “eliminate fines from the penalty scale, introduce compulsory knowledge and increase preventive care for perpetrators”.

The Government calls for an assessment of the treatment of perpetrators. Knowledge clearly needed. Unfortunately, the only help line available for perpetrators is only financed for the rest of the year.

Realstars’ argue for more resources in order to involve industry and commerce such as taxi companies, hotels and restaurants. This is also in line with our initiative Business Against Trafficking. The work must be for the longer term in order to get a foothold in these businesses and cooperation is crucial. The action plan is a step in the right direction in order to fight the exploitation of children, and the introduced measures in the forms of information, education, cooperation and monitoring within a different areas and at different levels are all relevant. However, RealStars believes that even more focus should be put on preventive work and on the perpetrators, the persons using and buying sex from children and young people. One measure is to counteract the demand of sexual services, from children especially. RealStars will follow the commitment given to the National Board of Health and Welfare in connection with the new action plan.

Please see the link to the Government’s action plan

Petra Sjunnesson and Malin Roux for Realstars