The main purpose of this project was to prevent children from being victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation. The first level had an overall awareness and advocacy programme aiming at the country as a whole. PEaCE engaged with targeted locations on the Southern and Western coastlines of Sri Lanka which are tourist hot spots.
PEaCE has been active in selected locations on the southern and western coasts such as Negombo, Mt. Lavinia and Hikkaduwa which are popular tourist destinations. This project is intended as an extension of the overall program to address a particular component of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC); trafficking of children. The overall objective of the project was the ‘Strengthening of a Protective Environment for Children.’
To achieve this, PEaCE primarily engaged in:
1) Prevention: increasing public awareness,
2) Prosecution: lobbying for legislation
Even though PEaCE has been working in Sri Lanka since the 1990s to eliminate CSEC, these issues are some of the least explored social concerns at the wider sections of Sri Lanka. CSEC (child prostitution, child trafficking, child phonography and child sex tourism) is mainly associated with tourism. In the recent past this issue has significantly increased in many forms.
The second world congress on CSEC Yokohama emphasized that, “The growth of sex-tourism for child sex abusers, including paedophiles, has been increasingly noted in Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal, catering primarily to demand from foreign tourists. In Sri Lanka, the problem of child prostitution, primarily among boys, is highly visible in beach resort areas. Their ages generally range from eight to 15 years. These young males are usually school dropouts, engaged for meager money while nurturing the dream of ‘quick and easy’ money. Nevertheless, in relation to sex-tourism examples from Sri Lanka show that local child sex abusers often out-number the tourists by many thousands.”
According to a survey, out of 1200 sex workers from the districts of Galle, Colombo, Gampaha and Kandy there were 480 children aged below 16 who have been engaged in prostitution. The growth of the tourist industry in Sri Lanka coupled with the phenomenal growth of the global sex tourism industry has led to the creation of suppliers of children, especially young boys to the growing child sex tourism market. ILO and UNICEF statistics estimate that around, 40,000 children are being used as prostitutes, while 5,000 to 30,000 boys are used by Western Tourists. Many studies indicate that in many cases children are either forced into prostitution or enter with the connivance or encouragement of their parents.