Child abuse in tourism: ‘ineradicable’

While the tourism sector for the seventh year in a row has grown, it seems sexual abuse of children in the sector ineradicable. Lack of collective action and lack of data are the biggest obstacle, according to the report Offenders on the Move.

A straatkind in Romania. Many of these children ended up on the street after abuse by their family or staff in orphanages. They maintain themselves by begging, stealing or herself to prostitute. © ISOPIX

The report points out that traditional destinations for sekstoeristen are subject to change. There are thus, according to the authors, evidence that European countries, which used to be countries of origin were of sekstoeristen, now recipient countries are become. It goes especially to countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Twenty years ago it was still possible for a global map to draw on the travel behaviour of seksdelinquenten and the recipient countries, but today it is that much more difficult. “The countries of origin and destination are less easily distinguished.”

Binding treaty

Experts from the industry were to meet this week in Madrid to take measures against child sex abuse in the tourism sector to discuss. “We can no responsibility and sustainable tourism to build as we, the most vulnerable do not protect”, said Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the united nations world tourism organization (UNWTO).

The UNWTO is working on a legally binding international treaty, which in september must be approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The meeting in Madrid was coordinated by ECPAT International, an umbrella organisation of ngos, with the support of the Dutch government.

Anonymity lifting

The fight against sexual exploitation of children is one of the priorities of the UNWTO. Najat Maalla M’jid, chairman of the World Tourism Network on Child Protection, stated that “there is no country that is not affected by this issue” and that “no child is immune.” Maud de Boer Buquicchio called on the protection of children central to the development of tourism.

With the rise of the internet and informal tour operators and the greater ease with which people, international travel, names also the dangers for children. At the same time, promote poverty, lack of education and lack of child protection misbruiksituaties.

One of the global initiatives of opsporingsorganisatie Interpol to abuse to reduce, prevent known kindermisbruikers undetected international travel.


“Anonymity protects abusers on a trip. Interpol is working kindermisbruikers who are convicted, their anonymity during the travel to take it away. That can be done through international warning systems, sharing of information with other countries and international screeningssysteem for people who respond to jobs in which the children worked.”

Unique in this process is the strong involvement of the private sector, says the UNWTO. “The recently reported examples of American crew members who reported suspicious situations of adults who travel with children, show that no country is immune to this problem. And also that reporting systems and the training of staff in the travel and tourism results.”

Baher Kamal

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