The Board of Directors of the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) wishes to express its grave concern on the above mentioned article, published on 16th January 2019 by The Sun Newspaper in UK which quoted the National Coordinator of the CPA to have said ‘Sex is cheap in my country and children are being sold for as little as D150.00, or just over 2 Euros’ and ‘Some parents know their children are being abused and they accept it because they are so desperate for food in their bellies”.
The Board wants to stress that these statements attributed to the National Coordinator are malicious and total distortion of what was actually said to the reporter. What the National Coordinator said was in reference to the vulnerable situation of child hawkers and the paltry amount of D150 some of them make at the end of day’s sale. Nothing was mentioned about the purchase of sex with a toddler for about £2.
While we find certain parts of the said article sensational and distasteful, we think the reporter has exposed a serious canker worm in our “body tourism”: the sheer lack of commitment by the State to the fight against sexual exploitation of children in our travel and tourism; the negligence and complicity of parents in the abuse of their children; child and family poverty; the indescribable, mindboggling laxity in the enforcement and implementation of the “good” laws we have for the protection of our children; the immense vulnerability and risks our children daily face; the glamorization of sex tourism; and materialism which has pervaded the moral fabrics of our society.
CPA recognizes the great importance and contribution of tourism to the economy of our country, and as a big employer and source of income for many people. We equally appreciate the efforts of the Government in making the country an attractive destination. However, CPA strongly believes in the promotion and creation ofresponsible and sustainable tourism which places child protection at its centre, in particular the fight against sexual abuse and exploitation of children. ‘Destination Gambia’ has an obligation to protect its children and to ensure that no one uses of the facilities of its travel and tourism industry to sexual abuse and exploit our children or take advantage of vulnerable families. CPA wishes to renew its commitment to the cause of children in The Gambia, to the protection of children from all forms of abuse, violence, discrimination and exploitation, and to holding the State, as a primary duty bearer, accountable for its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children.
Finally, the Board wishes to assure the State and all relevant child protection actors of CPA’s commitment to further strengthening of the already established collaboration and partnership in our quest to creating an enabling, protecting, warm and violent-free environment for all children in The Gambia.
(The Board wants to clarify that its National Coordinator, Mr. Lamin Fatty, was neither arrested nor harassed by the Police or by any authorities,contrary to news which was carried by some media outlets. Mr. Fatty was invited by the Police to make clarification on certain aspects of the said article and to which request he duly complied.)