Protect children from exploitation as tourism resumes- UN expert
GENEVA (24 September 2021) – As tourism picks up after the pandemic, governments must make sure that more travel does not result in more sexual exploitation of children, a UN expert said today.
“It is essential to ensure truly sustainable, ethical and responsible tourism free from child trafficking and sexual exploitation,” Mama Fatima Singhateh, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, said ahead of World Tourism Day on 27 September.
The unprecedented socioeconomic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing stark inequalities and the vulnerabilities of the most disadvantaged children, thereby amplifying the risks of exposing them to sale, sexual and labour exploitation in the context of hospitality and travel and tourism industry, both online and offline, she warned.
“Everyone has a role to play in preventing exploitation of children in travel and tourism,” Singhateh said. Governments must do more to address the root causes of socio-economic vulnerabilities of children and families. Companies, including in the hospitality and entertainment industry, must conduct human rights due diligence and provide employees with regular training on sexual exploitation of children and adopt obligatory reporting of suspected cases.
Financial resources must be allocated to civil society organizations and service providers to ensure uninterrupted access to child-friendly hotlines. Law enforcement should be given all necessary resources and capacity to ensure early detection of cases, said Singhateh.
She urged all States to sign up to the UN World Tourism Organization’s Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics and to harmonize national legislations to tackle the exploitation of children and to promote responsible and ethical tourism. This would help countries achieve the targets on ending violence against children and promoting sustainable tourism contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Her call was endorsed by Ms. Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Mr. Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, and theWorking Group on Business and Human Rights: Mr. Surya Deva (Chairperson), Ms. Elżbieta Karska (Vice-Chairperson), Mr. Githu Muigai, Mr. Dante Pesce, and Ms. Anita Ramasastry.
September 27 is designated World Tourism Day every year to raise awareness of the need for accessible tourism; this year the day is being used to encourage sustainable tourism as a way to eradicate poverty.