child trafficking/prostitution-sex tourism

This is a very difficult subject, but a very important one to discuss and I would like to ask those of you who have been in Nicaragua over the last couple of years for some insight.

I was just at the "United Front for Children: Global Efforts to Combat Sexual Trafficking in Travel and Tourism" Conference http://www.hrusa.org/workshops/trafficking/ here in Minneapolis today. It was a very informative conference about the effects of sexual trafficking on children around the world.

It was sad and depressing to say the least, but it also got me to thinking that I need to do something positive for these children if I can. Part of the conference addressed the current efforts taking place in Costa Rica and this made me think about some of the forum topics I have seen on NL in the past year about this issue. I have heard from family and friends that over the past couple of years that this issue has become more and more prevalent in Nicaragua.

This all got me to thinking about what I could do to address this issue in Nicaragua before Nicaragua becomes the next Costa Rica or Thailand. Would you folks be willing to stand up for the children of Nicaragua and help them confront this issue?

I spoke to Ms. Amy O'Neill Richard, Senior Advisor to the Director Of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. State Department about my concerns in Nicaragua and how things have been changing for the worst there. She told me that she had been asking the US Embassy staff for the past couple of years about child trafficking/prostitution and sex tourism in Nicaragua. She said that the US Embassy staff keep telling her that Nicaragua doesn't have a problem with this, but she says that she is pretty sure it does and would like some feed back about the issue. She asked that I contact her with examples of this issue so that she can address it at her level. There might be the opportunity to fund a project for an NGO in Nicaragua to help address this issue and help the children who are affected and their families.

So what I'm wondering is if you all could tell me if you have seen this go on in Nicaragua so that I may relate it to Ms. O'Neill Richard. This will help get the ball rolling so that we can get the support to begin to help Nicaragua address this issue. I understand and respect that the utmost privacy and care be used so as not to harm anyone who may be a victim of this issue. I would not use any of your names of course, but I would like for you to let me know of where you have seen this go on and if you've seen or heard of any businesses that might promote this sort of activity.

This isn't about ratting anyone out. You can keep things general if you prefer, but I would like to know what the prevalence of this sort of activity is so that we can try to address it accordingly.

We have the opportunity to do the right thing for Nicaragua and its children. We also have a moral duty to help these children so that they do not fall prey to the predators who take advantage of these children's innocence and Nicaragua's poverty. And for those children who already are in the clutches of these criminals we have no time to spare to help them restore as much of their childhood and innocence as possible as quickly as possible.

If you don't feel that you can put your thoughts and/or your personal observations down in this forum, please e-mail them to me privately. I will not share them with anyone else other than Ms. O'Neill Richard.

If each one of us don't do what we can to stand up for these children, who will? Thank you for helping to keep Nicaragua a safe and wonderful country for all and thank you for being the guardians of the children.

Matt

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Regional Forum

I received this post as a forward from the Executive Director of our organization, Empowerment International. I am here in Granada volunteering with them.

I noticed the problem of comercial sexual solicitation in children a year ago when I was approached by a young child offering sexual favors. It wasn't until about a year later, this past weekend that I had ever seen anyone publicly combating the abuse and exploitation of these children (which I'm sure is much larger than what I have seen). This past weekend an organization called MAĆ­S put on a regional forum in Granada that was "Strategies to combat the abuse, comercial exploitation, and sexual treatment of boys, girls, and adolescents in the Central American isthumus." It was supported by UNICEF and seemed to be touring From Guatamala to Panama with artists from each nation. I wish I could offer more information about this forum. But just to know it exists and if you are able to find them, teaming up with them, I'm sure, would be greatly beneficial.

Child prostitution

does exsist here, some people come here looking for it, while others fall into its filthyness by accident, and being weak in the brain, cross that line.

In the situations I am fimilar with, the mother,or father, for economic reasons and having the morales of an alley cat, teach their young it is alright to do this, and if it is a Gringo it is worth much more than a local. Satisfying (restitution) of the minors family has been the norm for offences like this.

I have 4 small children here and have no doubt, this topic has my complete attention, and I know it has to be addressed. I really think the problems begin in the home of the underage victum. I talk with my children frequently, that sexy things are for adults and do not let anyone touch them in that way. This is because of what they see in everyday life and on TV. I like to think my approch is working.

Thanks!

Thanks for the heads-up on this info. I'm glad to see some work is going on in Nicaragua on this issue. I'll see if I can't find anything else out about this effort.

Matt

Unless...

Unless you have photos/video of some U.S. Foreign Service employee having sex with a Nicaraguan child the U.S. State Department isn't going to give a damn or do a thing (and if you had that the U.S. person would be wisked out of the country faster than you can say "adios" and if you know anything of the U.S. State Department you know what I say is true). If this Ms. Richard needs your help (a guy in Minnesota -- no offense) then she should find a new line of work. She is pretty sure Nicaragua has this problem? What exactly makes it "pretty sure" instead of "sure" or instead of "a wild guess"? Whatever makes it this, has she published it or her expert opinion anywhere?

Remember?

http://www.nicaliving.com/node/2346?from=0&comments_per_page=50

Small comparisons Submitted by carina_cisneros on 8 November, 2005 - 13:53.

A problem might be small compared to Costa Rica, but that is perhaps because Cost Rica has so many, many more tourists, and a tourism infrastructure which lures family vacationers in a way Nicaragua hasnt yet, and might not do. What would matter is what percentage of the people visiting each country are criminals. Also, you might read more about Costa Rican problems because they have official investigative bodies, an investigative wing in the U.S. Embassy, an Interpol Officer/Staff, and a FT staffs via Casa Alianza & HelpSaveKids. I doubt Nicaragua has much by way of investigation, and what doesnt get reported by the presses is unsually (wrongly) assumed not to exist. Worth nothing is that in 2001, via Interpol and other funding, Nicaragua's CODENI Director went to Japan for the 2nd World Congress against the commercial sexual exploitation of children, with a lengthy presentation entitled "Nicaragua: A Pedophile's Paradise". Her claim was that Nicaragua's problem with sex crimes is that no one reports them, not that they do not exist. It is the unwillingness to report or the ease of avading prosecution which are the problems.

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We all have our opinions and I guess we all come upon them about the same way. The important thing is how we constructively use our opinions to help others. I think we are basically saying the same thing, just on different days.

I guess we can all use a little help here and there and it doesn't much matter where it comes from. The key is being willing to ask for it and then open to hearing what others have to say when you ask.

Carina, your heart's in the right place, it just has a healthy amount of skepticism in it that I'm sure has come from life's harsh realities.

"...someone willing to do something..."

I wish or hope that was so. Maybe it is. Maybe not. It is not clear to me what they are proposing to do, exactly. I do not believe for one second they need help gathering evidence which will incarcerate U.S. citizens in a foreign land courtesy of grant-monies which probably also derive from U.S. citizens. Since the State Department (Embassy) almost always provides legal advice and often counsel to U.S. citizens charged with crimes I am not sure I understand what exactly is this woman's job and how it could not be counter to what the other geniuses in the State department are doing when called on.

you have a point...

I can understand your doubt about the State Dept.'s intentions and I can't and won't speak for any of them. I was just trying to let you all know what I had seen and been told at this conference.

I try to keep a positive outlook on people's intentions and work and hope for the best possible outcome. I just hope that we can help address this issue in a positive way. It's obvious that this is a growing issue in Nicaragua, as it is around the world. This situation is unfortunate and I think we all have the moral obligation to help those of us who can't help ourselves (the children). What if these were your children, your nieces/nephews, grandchildren etc...?

I'll let Ms. O'Neill Richard answer your question about what her job is and how the State Dept. is looking to do something for the good of these children. Her e-mail address is oneillaw@state.gov

Please let us know what she says and what you make of it. I'd be interested to hear your insight. Thanks.

children

When my wife and I were thinking about adopting a child here a few years ago, I went with my friend and interpreter to "MI Familia" (a Nica governmental organization). They were very helpful with info about child abuse in Nicaragua. You may contact Mi Familia (Ministry of the Family) at the following address: De ENEL Central, 100 mts. Al sur, Managua, phone number (505) 278-1837/ (505) 278-5637, extensions 220 or 233. Mi Familia is responsible for vetting and approving the adoption of Nicaraguan children.

Yep - Great Work

Miskito Alan &#174

La Familia does great work and also has offices here in Puerto Cabezas and Bluefields. These people help to solve many other family problems besides just the children related issues.