Calls for zero tolerance of child exploitation
JOHANNESBURG, 9 June 2010 - UNICEF applauded the South African tourism and hospitality industry for its significant commitment to put an end to child sex tourism, as top industry leaders today signed the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct aimed at protecting children and to leaving an enduring legacy of good practice beyond the World Cup, which starts Friday 11 June.
“The contribution of the travel and tourism industry is vital to help stamp out child sexual exploitation. When it comes to the sexual exploitation of children, there can be no innocent bystanders,” said UNICEF Representative Aida Girma. “Effective child protection is only possible when all sectors of society were mobilised. Together, we must demonstrate zero tolerance of child exploitation and make South Africa a tourist destination that is safe for children,' she said.
South Africa has enacted legislation that strengthens the criminalisation of the use of children in prostitution and has put measures in place to strengthen their protection during the World Cup period. While child sex tourism is not strongly associated with South Africa as a tourist destination, high poverty levels and growing inequality suggest that tens of thousands of children in the country are at risk of sexual and other forms of exploitation. Domestic as well as foreign tourists may knowingly or unknowingly become involved in child exploitation, for example by transacting sex with an underage sex worker or buying goods from a trader exploiting child labour.
Child protection key to 2010 readiness
Jennifer Seif, Executive Director of Fair Trade in Tourism, UNICEF’s key partner in the launch of the Code, said protecting vulnerable children was a critical element of '2010 readiness'. UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO) provided technical inputs and funded the initiative to support FTTSA in preparation for the Code’s implementation.
Fourteen leading organisations in the South African travel, hotel and tourism industry have signified that they are behind the Code. They include AVIS, Hertz, Budget and Europcar; Sun International, Radisson and Protea Hotels and Tourvest have become signatories to The Code to help ensure that tourism facilities do not become havens for crimes against children.
Yesterday’s signing is also linked to a wider UNICEF-led national communication campaign ‘Let's Give a Red Card to Child Exploitation’ aimed at protecting children during the World Cup and beyond. Tens of thousands of visitors will find Red Card child protection information and referral numbers in their hotel rooms, rental cars and tour package dockets.
An international initiative first introduced in Thailand and also in Kenya, the Code is spearheaded by Fair Trade and Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) in cooperation with South African Tourism and key child protection partners such as the Department of Social Development. It has been endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization and many national governments.
To date, nearly 1,000 companies in 35 countries have signed The Code. Tourism businesses that choose to sign The Code commit themselves to implement the following measures on an ongoing basis:
For further information, please contact UNICEF South Africa: http://www.unicef.org/southafrica
Mobile: +27 82 561 3970
Mobile: +27 72 217 3554,
For more information about UNICEF South Africa’s Red Card Information campaign, visit http://www.unicef.org/southafrica/index.html