By Ogova Ondego
Published November 17, 2008
The World Tourism Organisation, a specialised travel and tourism agency of the UN, has launched an awareness campaign against child labour and sexual exploitationÂ and the trafficking of children worldwide. OGOVA ONDEGO reports.
Run under the ï¿½Protect Children from Exploitation in Travel and Tourismï¿½ banner, this joint initiative of the UNWTO and the International Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism, stresses that it is unacceptable for the industry and the travelling public to tolerate the abuse of children in any way. Accordingly, the campaign, to be launched globally on Universal Children’s Dayï¿½November 20, 2008ï¿½encourages the travel and tourism sector “to enforce [the UNWTO] Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and protect children against harm.”
Calling upon “All of us who work in the field of tourism” to “fight against these abuses and contribute to their eradication,” Dawid de Villiers, chairman of the International Task Force, says, “There are few human-rights violations more disturbing than the exploitation of children either for labour or sexual acts.”
The tourism industry may be “an economic sector that creates job opportunities and enriches the lives of many people across the globe,” notes Taleb Rifai, deputy secretary-general of UNWTO, “we stand for an industry that is respectful of human rights. We must act now. Children are our future. Don’t let child abuse travel!”
According to a Forimmediaterelease.net statement issued in Madrid, “The UNWTO strongly believes that the tourism industry has a moral obligation and a special responsibility to combat child labor, sexual exploitation, and trafficking of children.”
The International Labour Organisation, a specialised labour agency of the UN, estimates that some 218 million children are engaged in labour worldwide, while millions are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Saying this “campaign already enjoys broad support on the part of national governments, tourism boards, and other UN agencies, as well as partners from the public and private sectors,” the UNWTO adds that it is using various forms of mediaï¿½video, web, printï¿½to disseminate its message.
The UN body is also encouraging and supporting local programmes across the globe. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and president of Costa Rica, Ã“scar Arias has made a video address on the topic.
Sex tourism of children is defined as travelling to another country with the intention of engaging in sex with a person under age 18. Though illegal in most countries, reports jamaica-gleaner.com, sex tourism has gained international attention, especially in Thailand and other south eastern countries.
Among other reasons, sexual predators target and victimise children because of lack of child-protection laws in foreign countries and low risk of detection.
Children who engage in sex tourism are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, by engaging in unprotected sex.