Marta Santos Pais welcomes the launch of a landmark Global Study on the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism

Washington D.C. 12 May 2016 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais, welcomes the launch of a landmark Global Study on the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism.

The Global Study is the culmination of two years of research led by ECPAT International in collaboration with leading child rights experts, law enforcement agencies, civil society organizations and private sector partners. Itreveals that both the scale and the nature of the sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism have worsened dramatically, with greater risks than ever before for children to become victims of this serious child rights violation.

Speaking at the launch of the Global Study on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C., SRSG Santos Pais recalled the important commitments agreed upon by the international community to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation of children:

“By shedding light on the abuse and exploitation of children in travel and tourism and providing an insightful picture of the prevalence and characteristics of this phenomenon, the Global Study makes an invaluable contribution to our collective efforts to secure children’s protection from all forms of violence and to fight impunity across nations”, SRSG Santos Pais said.

In today’s world, new challenges need to be vigorously addressed. The Internet and information and communications technologies are being used to enhance the pathways for exploitation, while reinforcing the anonymity of offenders. Offenders can be foreign or local, young or old; some are pedophiles, but most are not.  Local, domestic, and intra-regional travelers account for most, with many being “situational” offenders, who engage in child exploitation because an opportunity to do so arises and because they feel they will not face any legal repercussions.

As noted by SRSG Santos Pais, the launch of the Global Study is taking place at an important and auspicious time. 2016 marks 20 years since the First World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and 10 years since the UN Study on Violence against Children was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

“Most importantly, this year marks the start of the implementation of the new global sustainable development agenda. The 2030 Agenda brings an ambitious vision of a world free from fear and from violence, for each and every child. It provides a strategic opportunity to secure the right of children to grow up free from abuse and exploitation in travel and tourism and to integrate this concern in the national policy agenda. The best interests of the child need to guide all decisions and call for steady action, including the establishment of safe and child-sensitive counselling, reporting and complaint mechanisms to give voice and means of redress and assistance to child victims; and the strengthening of regional and international cooperation to safeguard children’s dignity and protection at all times, and to investigate, prosecute and punish all those found responsible for the violation of their rights. This is why I wholeheartedly welcome the recommendation contained in the Global Study to incorporate the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism into the implementation, monitoring and reporting on Agenda 2030.”