Free a Girl, Terre des Hommes (secretary), Plan Nederland, Defence for Children-ECPAT and ICCO Cooperation are combining their specialized knowledge, skills and experience to rid eleven countries in Asia and Latin America of sexual exploitation. The five-year programme began in January 2016 and is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Free a Girl takes the lead in India, and also implements the programme in Thailand.
The Down to Zero programme focuses on four strategic objectives to rid eleven countries of child sexual exploitation:
- Victims and vulnerable children are able to stand up for their rights, so they can protect themselves against sexual exploitation by recognizing and reporting signs of sexual exploitation. They also play an active role in raising awareness of the problem, including among their peers, and in decision-making.
- The environment where children grow up is safer, gives better protection to victims, and prevents children from becoming victims (again) by raising awareness among the general public of the consequences of child sexual exploitation, thereby breaking through the taboo and shame that surround the problem.
- Governments and legal authorities adopt and fund polices, action plans and protocols to fight the commercial sexual exploitation of children, by means of lobbying, capacity-building, calling for the prosecution of perpetrators, and ensuring there are effective mechanisms for referring victims to the right sources of help and monitoring their progress.
- Market leaders and sector organizations from the private sector (tourism, ICT, transport and mining) are actively involved in protecting children against commercial sexual exploitation, for example by lobbying and working on policies surrounding codes of conduct.
The Down to Zero alliance tackles the commercial sexual exploitation of children in eleven countries by:
- Helping children and young people to stand up for their rights.
- Helping communities to protect their children more effectively against commercial sexual exploitation.
- Improving and implementing relevant policy, legislation and laws in the eleven countries.
- Working with the private sector to tackle and prevent the sexual exploitation of children, for example in the tourist industry.