Zero tolerance – ITB attends the International Summit on Child Protection in Colombia
On 6 and 7 June 2018 the International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism took place in Bogotà, Colombia. Rika Jean-François, CSR officer at ITB Berlin, was also present and moderated a panel discussion organised by ECPAT* Germany at this important event. ITB Berlin is working closely with other global players to heighten awareness for this type of crime, in an effort to turn tolerance into rejection. The international summit highlighted the role of the private sector as well as governments, civil society, human rights organisations and the media.
Topics addressed included protecting children at large gatherings such as sports events and during voluntary tourism activities. Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Maria Gutiérrez hosted the event and delivered the opening speech in which she underlined her commitment.
Rika Jean-François, CSR officer at ITB Berlin: “Sexual exploitation of children is not a tourism product. It is a crime and anyone who gains from it, facilitates or ignores it is an accomplice. There can only be zero tolerance. The entire tourism supply chain, including travellers, must be mobilised in order to prevent this abuse.“
According to the summit’s organisers, growth in low-cost travel and improved access to many destinations are among the factors that in recent times have made child exploitation easier. Despite wide-ranging, cross-border efforts, over the last two decades sexual exploitation of children by tourists has continued to increase. The fact that those responsible are neither pursued nor punished, ineffective laws and under-staffed authorities are among the reasons why.
Sexual exploitation of children causes long-term physical and emotional trauma, damages entire social fabrics and impedes national efforts to overcome poverty in the respective country. Hotels, bars and restaurants play a pivotal role here. This makes it all the more important for the entire tourism sector and value chain to make relevant efforts to protect children and prevent and report crimes.
The International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism gathered representatives of the UN, governments, tourism agencies, organisers, hotels, technology providers, booking agencies, the police, international NGOs and civic organisations.
ITB Berlin is also a member of the DRV Working Group on Child Protection. Rika Jean-François is on the board of the CODE OF CONDUCT AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN TOURISM (The Code) where she actively defends children’s rights.
*End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography & Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes