Fighting the sexual exploitation of children
Although it’s a tremendous socioeconomic lever, international tourism has also spawned the development of sex tourism and—even more worrying—the commercial sexual exploitation of children. This is one of the most critical social issues faced by our industry. Transat is firmly opposed to such exploitation of children, and has endeavoured to make its employees, customers and partners aware of the problem.
Partnership with ECPAT in Canada and in France
Strongly committed to the cause of sustainable tourism, Transat has partnered with the organizations Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada and ECPAT France in order to contribute to the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
As part of this commitment, Transat has begun raising the awareness of its entire staff to the issue of child sex tourism. In addition, its managers and frontline staff are receiving training, developed with the close collaboration of the two national organizations. Transat also plans to raise its customers’ and partners’ awareness of this issue of prime importance to the tourism and travel industry. Lastly, the tour operator has developed internal policies to guide the actions of employees who may witness situations of abuse.
Sex tourism is a global issue affecting millions of people’s lives. It makes victims of people who find themselves at the mercy of networks and middlemen who treat them like sexual and commercial objects. But sex tourism hides an even darker reality because it involves children in 40 to 50% of cases, according to International Labour Organization statistics.
World estimates show that sexual exploitation disrupts the lives of some two million children, most of them girls, who are robbed of their basic rights to dignity, safety, health and education. Money or goods and services received in exchange do not necessarily wind up in the hands of the children, but rather third parties (middlemen, networks, parents) who profit from this business arrangement.
Poverty, a lack of education, and high “demand” are some of the factors fuelling the phenomenon, present in many countries worldwide. The problem is more pronounced in developing countries in South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe, which are receiving a growing number of foreign visitors.
This demand is created by travellers who have a premeditated plan, as well as those who spontaneously decide to have an “exotic” experience and conveniently ignore the rules they would otherwise respect in their country of origin. Sex tourists are mostly men — although there are also couples and women — of all ages, and from all walks of life.
The sexual exploitation of minors is, of course, illegal. To protect these children from such abuse, the governments of popular tourism destinations have adopted extraterritorial laws allowing legal action to be taken against abusers in the country where the crime was committed, or in their country of origin.
As a traveller, you have a dual responsibility: first, to avoid engaging in this illegal activity, which is one of the worst forms of exploitation of children, and which also puts you at risk; and second, to alert law enforcement authorities or child protection agencies in your country to any sexual exploitation of a child you may have witnessed, providing as many details as possible.
To find out more, visit the sites of Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada and ECPAT France. ECPAT is an international network in 70 countries, which is working to eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of children.