This week, leading children’s charity ECPAT UK became the UK Representative of The Code, an international initiative supporting travel and tourism companies to prevent child sexual exploitation. With offenders frequently using the tourism industry to abuse vulnerable children, the charity is encouraging businesses across the sector to make safeguarding children a priority for responsible, sustainable tourism.

In many tourist destinations worldwide, children are routinely subjected to sexual abuse, violence and degradation at the hands of international traffickers and offenders. Cases of convicted UK sex offenders traveling to countries such as Kenya, India, Cambodia and the Philippines with the sole purpose of sexually abusing disadvantaged children are widely documented. Yet due to offenders’ comparative wealth and power, and a lack of coordination among national law enforcement agencies, many avoid prosecution, leaving victims without justice or the support they need.

While tourism is soaring, child protection lags behind. The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism was created to facilitate the collaboration of the private sector with law enforcement agencies and NGOs in efforts to eliminate child abuse. All Code signatories receive specialised training to equip them to identify and act on potential cases of child trafficking or exploitation. Moreover, signatories of The Code are ideally placed use their multiple contact points with tourists to raise awareness about prosecution of child abuse offences.

ECPAT UK’s CEO, Bharti Patel, says

“ECPAT UK has a long history of working with the travel and tourism industry on child protection issues and we are happy to be the Local Code representative for UK. By providing specialised training, this will allow us to work closely with key companies in the sector to raise awareness of child protection issues in their supply chains.

“Implementing The Code helps industry workers to be vigilant, with staff trained to spot child abuse and intervene effectively so children everywhere are kept safe from harm. We encourage companies to become members of The Code and prioritise their commitment to protecting children everywhere. This is every child’s fundamental right.”

Dorothy Rozga, Director of ECPAT International, welcomed the UK’s involvement with the Code. She says

“Observing the magnitude of the tourism industry in the UK, we anticipate there will be many new members signing up to The Code, which will have a positive impact on international child protection practices.”

For more information about membership of the code, including the training and support available to travel and tourism companies, contact ECPAT UK on [email protected]

More information on The Code can be found at http://www.thecode.org

ENDS

Press contacts

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK: 020 7607 2136, [email protected]

Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns, ECPAT UK: 07890 120834 [email protected]