Tehelka exposes paedophilia in Goa

IN Media Practice | 10/08/2004
Indiaøs investigative paper did a sting on Goaøs worst-kept secret -- paedophilia or child-sex abuse along the stateøs tourist beaches.

Former Goa-based journalist Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, one of the three scribes behind the sting operation, told IANS that this "disturbing" expose was "about foreigners fearlessly subverting the India law (and how) the government, in the quest for increasing revenues, looks the other way and colludes to facilitate a shocking crime".

Tehelka claimed that "hundreds of Europeans -- British, Germans, Dutch, French, Swiss and Swedish -- visit Goa to seek children for sexual gratification. Said the paper: "They come to Goa because it is easy, and cheap, to sexually abuse a child here. On the run after crackdowns on cheap child-sex tourism in Thailand and Sri Lanka, the paedophile bus has rolled into Goa."

Three of the paper`s journalists -- VK Shashikumar, Mayabhushan Nagvenkar and Sanjukta Sharma -- did half-a-dozen pieces on what they called the ramifications and modus operand of child-sex-abuse here.

This is an issue which has been raised by concerned citizens and even the media and NGOs here. But officials have often played down concern over it. But blurred pictures of secret-camera recordings came alive on late Thursday (5th August) night Indian TV screens, with people spilling the beans boldly to those whom they didn`t even suspect in the very least to have anything to do with journalism.

There was the typical Tehelka stamp on the sting operation. "In order to check how deep this linkage (between trafficking of children and paedophilia) was Tehelka`s reporters armed themselves with a fake brochure of a dummy event management company called Red Satin," said the team.

Tehelka named six foreigners, whom it said its lengthy investigations had shown to be directly involved in paedophilia. One was shown with two Indian young girls, one of whom he claimed was his wife, and the other his adopted daughter -- which the paper charged was not legally-valid.

The six named paedophiles come from Germany, the UK (three in all), a Dutch national and an unidentified foreigner. Using hidden cameras, Tehelka claims it got evidence on tape. Its reporters posed as research students, event organisers and in other roles to ferret out the truth.

Chief minister Parrikar also gets blamed for not taking action over available information. Tehelka charged that a status report on tourism-related paedophilia was prepared by former Scotland Yard detective Ric Wood and submitted to the state government in 2001.

Says the paper : "Rs 4,000 crore (the amount earned from tourism since then)... that`s the size of the heap the chief minister will have to dig into, in order to unearth the critically important Ric Wood report." It charged that Goa was facing the "apprehension" that disclosures over paedophilia would result in Goa losing favour as "one of the most popular tourism destinations in this part of the world".

Frederick Noronha is a freelance journalist based in Goa. Contact:

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