Increasing interconnectivity and cheaper travel has created enormous opportunities – but at a price.
Despite global efforts, the last two decades have seen an increase in the sexual exploitation of children. Much of this increase is associated with traveling child sex offenders, who often take advantage of poverty, a culture of impunity, weak laws and a lack of police capacity to harm children.
The sexual exploitation of children causes long-term physical and emotional damage, harms communities, cheapens cultures and threatens national efforts to escape poverty.
Urgent action is needed in all countries to better protect children from traveling child sex offenders.
The sexual exploitation of children is often facilitated through tourist hotels, bars and restaurants – and offenders frequently avail themselves of the services of the travel industry to exploit children. This puts the travel and tourism sector in a unique position to work towards protecting children and ending this crime.
The International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism will bring together world leaders, the UN; governments; travel agents, tour operators, hotels and other travel businesses; technology and booking companies; police; international NGOs; and civil society organizations. Over two days they will discuss how to better protect children, prevent abuse from happening and catch those committing this crime.
Possible leads/stories that may emerge from discussions with participants at the summit:
* Interview opportunities with government and business leaders in this field;
* Stories that show what businesses and governments plan to do to, or have failed to achieve in preventing the sexual exploitation of children – especially in light of upcoming mega tourism events;
* Techniques and approaches that have worked in protecting children and catching offenders;
* Businesses and governments may pledge to sign the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which includes binding commitments to end the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism;
* Specific travel businesses (see list of participants) may pledge to adopt corporate policies against the sexual exploitation of children, which may include training on prevention and responding for travel and tourism professionals;
* Governments and law enforcement agencies may pledge to increase efforts to catch traveling child sex offenders, particularly through transnational laws;
* Businesses may pledge to crack down on voluntourism practices, particularly in orphanages, that do not guarantee the safety of children; and
* Efforts may be made to increase awareness of the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, especially among markets that are an emerging source of tourists.
Colombian Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, María Lorena Gutiérrez, summit host, said “Colombia, as a member of the GARA Child Protection Action Group for the Americas, is strongly enforcing laws and Responsible Tourism codes amongst our industry, because we understand that we are all -states, business and citizens- the main warrantors of our children´s rights. We cannot turn our heads in another direction. This first Summit in his kind will be an exceptional opportunity to learn and share what’s been done around the world to fight this terrible crime”.
Helen Marano, EVP, External Affairs, WTTC, comments: “WTTC is proud to support the International Summit on Child Protection. Serving on the Task Force allows WTTC the opportunity to is serving on the Task Force as well to mobilize the strength of the Council as it is vital to engage the private sector as we work collaboratively in combatting this challenge.”
The Colombian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism in cooperation with the Tourism Authority of the Capital District of Bogota, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Colombian Child Protection Authority, and ECPAT Colombia – Fundación Renacer.
Among the co-organizers of the Summit are the High Level Task Force on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Travel and Tourism Council, and ECPAT International. The Summit is organized with the participation ofthe World Tourism Organization.
Read the Executive Summary and the Global Study Report.
Read 9 regional reports.
A word about words
When describing the sexual exploitation of children, irresponsible or ill-informed use of terminology can trivialize or sensationalize the issue, stigmatize victims and make it difficult to raise awareness or facilitate enlightened discourse.
For example, the unqualified use of the terms “pornography” and “prostitution” should only occur when describing adult activities. Using these terms in relation to the sexual abuse of children can lend a sense of normalcy and legitimacy to offending by implying that the child has transactional agency or has provided some degree of consent. Children can never consent to sexual activities with an adult.
Below are some other terms that are commonly used when describing the sexual exploitation of children, but that it is better to avoid, or use with caution:
“Child pornography.” It is better to use the term “(online) child sexual abuse material,” or “(online) child sexual exploitation”;
“Child prostitute.” It is better to use the term “child trafficked for sexual purposes,” or “child exploited through/in/for prostitution”;
“Child sex tourism.” It is better to use the term “sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism”; and
“Child sex tourist.” It is better to use the term “traveling child sex offender” or “transnational child sex offender.”
Never use terms that trivialize the sexual assault of children, such as “kiddie porn,” “child porn,” “kiddie fiddler,” or “pedo.” (Note that a paedophile is a person with a specific mental health disorder who has a sustained sexual interest in pre-pubescent children. Not all child sex offenders have a paedophilic disorder and not all those with a paedophilic disorder are child sex offenders.)
For more information, consult the Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
ECPAT International is a global network of organisations dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children. With 102 members in 93 countries, ECPAT focuses on the trafficking of children for sexual purposes; early and forced marriage; online child sexual exploitation; and the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism sector. The ECPAT International Secretariat is based in Bangkok Thailand.
For more information about ECPAT, go to www.ecpat.org
About WTTC: The World Travel & Tourism Council is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism. It promotes sustainable growth for the sector, working with governments and international institutions to create jobs, to drive exports and to generate prosperity. Every year WTTC, together with Oxford Economics, produces its flagship Economic Impact Report, which looks at the socioeconomic benefits of Travel & Tourism on global, regional and country level. This year the report shows data on 25 regional groupings and 185 countries.
Travel & Tourism is a key driver for investment and economic growth globally. The sector contributes US$8.3 trillion or 10.4% of global GDP, once all direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account. The sector also accounts for 313 million jobs or one in ten of all jobs on the planet.
For over 25 years, WTTC has been the voice of this industry globally. Members are the Chairs, Presidents and Chief Executives of the world’s leading, private sector Travel & Tourism businesses, who bring specialist knowledge to guide government policy and decision-making, and raise awareness of the importance of the sector.