A still from the Beyond Borders video.

A still from the Beyond Borders video.

Kids aren’t commodities

ANU PhD student MARK ERIK HECHT is exposing the shocking truth about child sex exploitation and tourism in a series of in-flight videos. SIMON JENKINS reports.

As passengers sit on an Air Canada plane in Vancouver, waiting to take off for Hong Kong, the in-flight entertainment system lights up and a video starts to play.

The image is simply black lines on a white background.

As the camera zooms out, the black lines form a barcode on the neck of a young girl.

A red line appears, reminiscent of a supermarket scanner.

Like a product for purchase at the checkout, the girl's neck is scanned and a loud 'beep' is heard.

The words "exploited by a sex tourist" flash below the barcode, followed by "kids aren't commodities" then "help stop child sex tourism". It's a blunt, graphic and confronting image.

But for PhD student Mark Erik Hecht, this video and two others just like it are the latest tools in the war against child sex tourism, abuse and exploitation.

You can view these videos below.

According to Child Wise, the Australian organisation which fights child sexual abuse, around two million children, mostly girls, are caught up in the global commercial sex trade.

Child Wise says organised child sex industries have emerged in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Pacific, while more offenders are seeking out new destinations for child sex tourism.

Hecht is working with Canadian anti child sex abuse organisation Beyond Borders and Air Canada to help educate Canadians about the global problem.

Hecht teaches part time at the ANU College of Law and offers a course in International Child Law. He is studying the role of private sector engagement in child protection as part of his PhD, and he's keen for more private companies to follow the lead of Air Canada.