In November 2014 ECPAT launched a new global Taskforce to tackle the rapid acceleration of sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, former UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, said then that the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism is now a phenomenon of global dimensions, a phenomenon that “seriously harms countless children around the world, often with irreparable consequences.”
The objective of the taskforce, funded by the Dutch government, is to pull this crime from the shadows into the light and to ensure that governments are held accountable when they fail to act. We have looked at this issue each year since it was raised at WTM in 2011. You can watch the video of last year’s World Responsible Tourism Day debate here.
Many in the industry have signed The Code; and many have trained their staff and developed management strategies so that they avoid being used by abusers and are able to support and enable their staff to report abuse when they see it. This is surely both the right thing to do, and important to reduce the reputational risk should a business unknowingly facilitate child abuse – whether in travelling families, through child labour or paedophilia. However, ECPAT clearly feels that the industry needs to go further.
Recognising this, we have organised a panel on child protection for 11.30 on Tuesday 3rd November at this year’s WTM to provide an opportunity for the industry to hear the latest thinking and recommendations from leading child protection workers. This year we are focusing on what the industry can do to address the issues of child labour, orphanages, and to prevent its facilities being used for trafficking or the sexual exploitation of children.
Lew Hunt from the National Crime Agency, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command will talk about where the paedophiles are most active. Ashley Robinson, a UK Border Force Senior Officer, will talk about how the industry can assist their work in preventing child trafficking and flagging concerns about child welfare to socials services. Emmanuelle Werner, Europe Coordinator of Friends International, will talk about their seven tips for child-safe travellers and their two campaigns: Children are not tourist attractions, and Don’t create more orphans. Beth Verhey, Senior Advisor, Corporate Social Responsibility, UNICEF, will talk about the impact assessments that they have underway.
The report of the ECPAT Task Force in the next year will require companies to up their game in tackling child abuse where abusers use tourism facilities. Sadly people often feel that they are more anonymous abroad and experiment there or travel to abuse. This panel is designed to provide up to date briefing in order to avoid being used by abusers and to avoid reputational risk.
• You can read the report of the 2014 WTM discussions on child protection here.
• To keep up with developments in this issue visit the Child Protection Facebook group, where you can also share information.