Australia Cracking Down on Pedophiles Who Travel Abroad

Australia Cracking Down on Pedophiles Who Travel Abroad

There are 3,200 registered pedophiles in Australia. In an announcement in May, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reported that of the 800 registered child sex offenders who travelled overseas from Australia last year about half went to Southeast Asian destinations.

Indonesia surpasses Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia as the number one spot for Australian sex tourists with 18% of registered child sex offenders targeting Indonesia as their country of destination.  According to Andy Ardian of ECPAT Indonesia (a group that aims to end the sexual exploitation of such children), Indonesia is a popular destination for Australian paedophiles intent on assaulting children with approximately 80 tourists arriving each month.

Australian paedophile Peter Dundas Walbran who was convicted of assaulting three boys aged 8 to 12 in Indonesia in 2012 was found working as an international teacher in a secluded Thailand school after more than a year on the run in 2015 when police detained him on suspicion of possessing child pornography  (Source: The Daily Mail).

Starved of money, attention and affection, children as young as 4 and 5 have been conditioned to beg for change or sell anything from trinkets to sex in order to survive. Seeing a cute wide eyed child tapping on a car window that is stopped at a traffic light on one of the numerous busy strips begging for money is commonplace. The side streets and railway tracks team with teenage girls who are waiting to offer foreign tourists sex for money. Parents desperate to provide for their family send their vulnerable children out into the streets in order to make money for food.

In 2005, a report by the US Department of State Human said there were 200,000 to 300,000 sex workers in Thailand alone. Current statistics gives the number from 800,000 up to 2 million (Source: Tourthaitour).

A great number of these sex workers are children. As the Safe Childhoods Foundation highlights, “as developed countries become better at identifying and prosecuting Crimes Against Children, offenders are increasingly seeking out countries where they can continue to evade detection.” In essence, they continue, ‘rich’ countries are, by default, exporting their offenders to ‘poor’ countries.

Sex tourists and in particular registered sex offenders often travel to developing countries due to weak law enforcement, anonymity and the wide availability of children in prostitution.

With sex tourism on the rise, governments from Southeast Asian countries like Bali and Indonesia have been calling on Australia to do more to stop its child sex tourists. Australia has responded with new legislation introduced in May that would ban pedophiles from travelling abroad. This new legislation would cancel passports of some 20,000 convicts on its national child sex offender registry. Currently there is no country that has such a travel ban.

As Julie Bishop stated in a press conference, this new legislation “will make Australia a world leader in protecting vulnerable children in our region from child sex tourism.”

As Australian actress and children’s rights campaigner Rachel Griffiths wrote in a letter to Independent Senator Derryn Hinch, “if we can take a passport from a person who has claimed bankruptcy, why can’t we stop our pedophiles from travelling to Myanmar?”

However, critics argue that this new ban could unfairly impact people who have been put on the registry for minor sexual transgressions such as a teenager caught sexting his partner. However, Hinch promises they would work on the legislation so this would not happen.

Australia has recently added a new criminal offence for citizens or residents who molest children overseas. Punishment under this offence is up to 25 years in prison.

Stopping pedophiles from travelling overseas sends a strong message that child exploitation is not only unacceptable at home but also abroad.  No longer can child sex offenders take advantage of the poor in developing countries under the premise that paying children to satisfy their guilty pleasure is ok because they need the money.

But what happens to the children in Asian-Pacific countries subjected to “pay-per-view paedophilia” in which they are forced to perform sex acts live in front of a webcam for pedophiles who would prefer to spend incremental international cash transfers of $30, $40, $50 rather than risk imprisonment in some harsh Indonesian jail?