German campaign against child prostitution in the Czech Republic

The German government has launched a campaign to fight child prostitution in the Czech Republic, with leaflets and posters warning of the harsh sentences that await those who have sex with children either in Germany or the Czech Republic. Nick Carey has this report:

The German campaign against child prostitution officially got under way on Wednesday, with German police handing out leaflets to drivers heading into the Czech Republic. The picture on the front of the leaflet, and the accompanying posters at the border, depicts a crying child, standing in the shadow of a grown man. The leaflet warns of the harm that child prostitution causes, and that as in Germany, the Czech Republic hands out tough prison sentences to paedophiles.

The campaign is the brainchild of the German Family and Interior ministries and is aimed in particular at combatting child prostitution in West and North Bohemia. According to a spokeswoman from the German Interior Ministry, Cornelie Sonntag-Wolgast, the Czech border regions have become hotspots for German sex tourists. The German government wants to protect Czech children and make people aware of the suffering of child prostitutes.

The child prostitution industry in the border regions has, according to the organisation Karo, which provides help to prostitutes, undergone a boom, and while only a few years ago there were just a handful of child prostitutes, there are now dozens of them. The organisation believes that only outside help can ease the suffering of these children, that there is no point in contacting their parents, as it is most often the parents who send the children out into the streets in the first place. As more children hit the streets, prices for sex tourists go down, which in turn entices more to come to the Czech Republic, and the vicious circle continues.

The Czech government has welcomed the German project. According to a spokesperson from the Interior Ministry, the Cabinet will discuss measures to fight child prostitution next month. Officially, in 1999 there were more than eighty known cases of child prostitution in the Czech Republic, but the real numbers are thought to be much higher. As this is the case, the German campaign, and any possible future action by the Czech government, couldn't have come at a better time.