Witness of a suspicious situation? Do not look away

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Every year, as many as 1.8 million children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation worldwide. Some are exploited by tourists or travelers, some are trafficked into sexual slavery and millions of images of child sexual abuse circulate daily on the Internet. Every year, only few perpetrators are arrested, and even fewer are convicted…

This is why ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), in collaboration with the European Union and Police Authorities, has developed a new tool to enable travelers to report suspected cases of child sexual exploitation in the context of travel and tourism, even if they are abroad.

Sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism is a growing problem and new forms are constantly emerging, particularly as different types of tourism and travel develop in new destination countries. As the problem grows and travel becomes more accessible, it has also become more frequent for tourists and travelers to witness situations in which children are sexually exploited.

The European online reporting platform is aimed at European citizens and residents who want to act responsibly and who acknowledge that they have a duty not to turn a blind eye to child sexual exploitation, and to report suspected cases to the appropriate authorities.

The overall objective of the project is to increase the protection of children in developing countries from sexual exploitation at the hands of travelers by reducing the social tolerance of this child rights violation.

The European reporting platform was launched during the ITB in Berlin in March. Few European child sex offenders are reported and convicted despite the introduction of extraterritorial legislation in most European countries as well as various political and tourism industry commitments made at the European level over the past years, including the Child Protection Code.

In order to respond to this situation, a consortium of six members of the ECPAT network in Europe (ECPAT France, ECPAT Luxembourg, ECPAT Germany, ECPAT Austria, ECPAT Netherlands and Nobody’s Children Foundation (ECPAT Coalition in Poland) have developed a project with the aim of strengthening the protection of children and young people in developing countries from the sexual exploitation of tourists and travelers: “Don’t look away! – Be aware and report the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism”, supported by the European Union. A number of other ECPAT members and stakeholders (see the list of associates and countries involved next page), such as members of the tourism industry, are associate partners in the project.

The project is an extension of the “Trilateral campaign to protect children and adolescents against sexual exploitation within tourism” initially developed by ECPAT Austria, ECPAT Germany and ECPAT Switzerland in collaboration with their respective national governments, law enforcement agencies and tourism industries.

The project aims to reduce the tolerance of this child rights violation at three distinct levels: the level of the individual, the level of the private sector (through promoting corporate social responsibility) and at the policy level (through targeting local, national and European institutions).

ECPAT International is a global network of organizations dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children. ECPAT focuses on the four key manifestations of CSEC: child prostitution, child pornography/child sexual abuse materials, sexual exploitation of children through travel and tourism, and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Today, the ECPAT network is comprised of an International Secretariat based in Thailand, together with 81 member organizations in 74 countries. For more information, please visit www.ecpat.net

For more information: ECPAT International, 328/1 Phayathai Road, Ratchatewi Bangkok 10400, Tel: 02-215-3388, 02-611-0972; Fax: 02-215-8272, Email: info@ecpat.net , for media inquiries: media@ecpat.net , Website: www.ecpat.net

ETN Publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz is a member of the UNWTO Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism.