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Madrid: international experts and tourism professionals have stressed on collective action to fight against child sexual exploitation in the tourism sector .
Experts representing different countries and organizations discussed measures on the fight against child sexual exploitation in the tourism sector at a meeting held in Madrid this week.
The initiative was organized by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and coordinated by ECPAT International with the support of the government of The Netherlands.
Despite international efforts to stop sexual exploitation of children in tourism, abetted by technology, the sheer speed and scale of this crime has, to date, out-paced attempts to respond at the international and national level, UNWTO said.
“Failure of collective action and a chronic lack of robust data constitute the main challenges to eliminate this crime according to Global Study – Offenders on the Move, which is the largest pool of information on the issue to date.”
“We cannot build the responsible and sustainable tourism sector that we seek without protecting the most vulnerable in our societies. To do so we need effective tools and a global commitment” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
The fight against Child Exploitation in tourism is one of the priorities of UNWTO who has been leading since 20 years the World Tourism Network on Child Protection.
“Sexual exploitation in travel and tourism has a child’s face. No country is untouched by this phenomenon and no child is immune. In this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, let us place children’s right to protection from violence and exploitation at the heart of our actions,” Najat Maalla M’jid opined.
The Special Rapporteur on child trafficking and sexual exploitation, Maud de Boer Buquicchio called for “child protection to be placed at the core of tourism development strategies.”
The rise of the Internet and informal operators as well as greater access to international travel have expanded ‘demand’ and heightened the dangers for children.
At the same time, grinding poverty and lack of education – combined with the continued neglect of child protection systems – have fuelled the ‘supply’ of children. International experts assembled in Madrid believe they have at least some of the answers, but they need wider engagement.
Peter van Dalen, from Interpol’s Organized & Emerging Crime Directorate, said, “Anonymity protects traveling sex offenders, and INTERPOL is working with countries to deprive known sex offenders’ of their anonymity, through mechanisms such as an international warning system sharing information across borders about convicted sex offenders, as well as an international vetting system for job applicants applying to working with children.”
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Marta Santos Pais, encouraged strong linkages with global processes, saying that, “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presents a unique opportunity to reverse this pattern and make all forms of violence against children part of our distant past.”
July 17, 2017