Polish orphans 'rented out' for sex in West

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The Independent Online
The heads of orphanages throughout Poland have been ordered to account today for the whereabouts of all their children amid mounting fears that young Polish boys are being 'rented out' to Westerners to be sexually abused or forced to take part in pornographic videos.

The order came from Poland's Education Ministry after it was confirmed that a seven-year-old boy from an orphanage near the southern city of Pszczyna had stayed at the home of a 45-year-old Dutch homosexual earlier this year. The boy, who was supposed to have been staying with a couple wanting to give him a holiday, only returned to Poland on Monday, after being away for more than two months. According to Dutch police, the man has admitted abusing the boy and filming the abuse on video.

Ministry officials admit that the circumstances surrounding the case are 'suspicious', and that the former head of the orphanage has been suspended from his post. They have also announced plans not to allow orphans to go abroad in future without an approved guardian.

'We were all absolutely devastated,' said Marek Konopczynski, a ministry director. 'That a small boy, an orphan and totally nave, could be used in this way is beyond belief. We can only try to prevent it happening again.'

In addition to toughening the regulations concerning children's visits abroad, the ministry wants more thorough vetting of applications from Western charities offering to come and work in Poland.

Earlier this week it was revealed that a 29-year-old Swedish man was being formally investigated in connection with charges of sexually abusing two boys, aged 10 and 12, during a brief spell working at an orphanage near the northwestern city of Szczecin last year. The man, who was there on behalf of a Swedish charity, has subsequently been struck off its books after it emerged that he was homosexual.

The cases at Szczecin and Pszczyna have prompted an outcry in the Polish media and dark warnings that they are but the tip of an iceberg in which scores of Polish children are being systematically sold or rented into sexual slavery in the West by destitute mothers and even impoverished orphanage directors.

Such fears have been echoed in Dutch and Swedish media reports which also speak of boys from Poland and elsewhere in eastern Europe being increasingly employed in gay nightclubs in Amsterdam and pornographic film studios in Sweden.

According to Andrzej Koweszko, head of Interpol's Warsaw office, some cases of Polish children being used in pornographic films have already been confirmed - and more may yet come to light.

'For the safety of our children, tougher checks have to be made. At the moment it would be premature to speak of a flood of such cases. But unless action is taken, more and more people will exploit the loopholes.'

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