January 27, 2006

Report child sexual abuse!

A binational campaign defends children’s rights.

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

On the poster you can see a T-rex trying to harm a young dinosaur.

That’s precisely the message it’s trying to make across: That big dinosaurs, which represent pedophiles that sexually abuse children, can’t continue harming children any more.

The campaign is called “Pedofilo Rex,” and is being done by the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, a non-profit that fights to stop sexual exploitation in our region.

Marisa Ugarte, the Coalition’s director in San Diego, said that the purpose of the campaign is to invite people to report pedophiles.

“The campaign accepts that sexual predators exist and at the same time creating consciousness in the community that it’s not normal for pedophiles to exploit children,” she said. “People like the cartoon. We want people to report those who exploit children.”

The posters will be distributed in San Diego and Tijuana. In San Diego, they will be posted at Convention Centers, clinics that serve immigrants and convenience stores such as 7-11.

“Pedofilo Rex” has funds from the Department of State and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ugarte said that they chose a cartoon of a dinosaur because it’s a metaphor for sexual predators.

“The T-rex is not nice. Dinosaurs are carnivores. Sometimes they might seem nice, but if you get near them, they will eat you. It’s their nature. In the same way, pederasts sometimes also seem amicable, very nice, but they’re predators,” she said.

Jorge Bedoya, the Coalition’s representative in Tijuana, said that in this city they’re passing out flyers at schools, maquiladoras and popular areas such as the 5 y 10 intersections and Zona Río.

They will also put stickers on taxis so that the message can reach more places.

“Child sexual abuse is not only a problem that only pertains to Tijuana or to San Diego separately. It’s a regional problem. The Tijuana-San Diego region has the problem, together,” he said.

The activist said that the campaign is not only targeting American sex tourists, but all sexual predators.

“We have to remember that most of the time those who abuse children are people close to them, even a family member,” he said.

This campaign is also being done in Nogales, Sonora, where, just like in our region, there’s a great problem of child sexual exploitation.

In addition to posters and flyers, the campaign will include TV and radio commercials, and some billboards.

This is not the only campaign the Coalition is doing. In November, it began another campaign targeting sexual tourists looking to engage in sex with children in Tijuana. That campaign is being done with the U.S.-based non-profit World Vision.

In all, eight billboards and 80 smaller ads have gone up in areas heavily travelled by tourists, such as near the San Ysidro and the Otay Mesa border crossings, Avenida Revolu-ción and the Zona Norte. They also are in Rosarito.

The messages one reads on the billboards, written in big letters in English and smaller ones in Spanish, are direct: “Exploit a child sexually in this country and you will go to jail in yours.” A man behind bars appears in a photo.

Another ad, bearing the sad face of a child with dark hair and eyes, reads: “I am not a tourist attraction and it’s against the law to turn me into one.”

The biggest difference between “Pedofilo Rex” and other campaigns is that “Pedofilo Rex” is a regional campaign. In the past, campaigns have been national or even international. But “Pedofilo Rex” was specifically created for the Tijuana-San Diego region, according to Bedoya.

If you want to report child sexual abuse, in San Diego dial 211 and in Tijuana dial 075.

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