World Vision gives Canadians tips on how to practice "child-safe
tourism" in light of rampant travelling child sex offenders
Canadian government must use extraterritorial legislation to convict
offenders; in 14 years, only four convictions
40 per cent of male tourists who travel to the Philippines are there for
MISSISSAUGA, ON, Sept. 26, 2011 /CNW/ - As South East Asia's tourism
industry explodes with huge increases in arrival numbers, more needs to
be done to protect children from sexual exploitation by travelers,
warns World Vision on the eve of World Tourism Day. Many of the
countries in the region are known as "hot spots" where travelling child
sex offenders target vulnerable children.
"The numbers for this region are alarming, but South East Asia isn't
unique. Wherever there is poverty and weak protection, children are at
risk of sexual exploitation. It happens all over the world—and in many
countries popular with Canadian travelers, including many Caribbean
destinations," says Caroline Riseboro, vice president of Public Affairs
with World Vision Canada.
"Tourism does help to boost economies, but the dark side of tourism is
it creates opportunities for the sexual abuse of children. Tourists can
protect children by demanding tour operators, hotels and restaurants
don't turn a blind eye when children are at risk. By knowing the laws
and how to report suspected abuse overseas, Canadians can help, just as
they would if they suspected the sexual abuse of a child here at home."
World Vision's warning comes as the latest figures from countries like
Thailand show arrival numbers growing at annualized rates of 26 per
cent (11.17 million visitors) for the first six months of 2011. Even
off-the-beaten track countries like Laos last year hosted 2.5 million
visitors, on par with Cambodia, while Vietnam had five million
"In our work overseas, we see the 'push-down/pop-up' effect. When one
country or region gets serious about protecting children and convicting
offenders, the criminals simply pack up and move where there are more
vulnerable children and weaker protections and laws," says Riseboro.
"We're seeing this happening in South East Asia where the problem has
shifted to places like the Philippines, where 40 per cent of male
tourists come for sexual purposes."
World Vision is asking Canadians to:
Take responsibility for the impact of their own travel by researching
hotels and travel companies to ensure they have policies or adhere to
codes that protect children.
Report the exploitation of children—labour, sexual or trafficking—they
witness while abroad (cybertip.ca).
Deter any travel companions from engaging in such behaviours.
Canada and travelling child sex offenders
In 1997 the Canadian Criminal Code was amended so travelling child sex
offenders can be prosecuted in Canada for crimes committed abroad.
Sexual exploitation of children by tourists has two sides which fuel
this gross violation of children's rights: the supply side and the
demand side. Canadians who purchase sex from children—boys and girls
under the age of 18—are fueling this problem by contributing to the
demand for sex with children.
With the full support of World Vision and other anti-trafficking
organizations, Canada passed Bill C-268 in June 2010, which imposes
minimum sentences for child traffickers. Children abused by travelling
sex offenders, are often victims of trafficking.
What World Vision is doing to protect children:
Calling on Canada to use our extra-territorial legislation swiftly and
effectively to convict Canadians who abuse children overseas when the
country where the abuse took place can't or won't. This law has been in
place for 14 years, but only four people have been convicted and we
know the number of Canadians accused is more than 150.
Calling on CIDA to continue to tackle poverty in developing countries
which is a key driver of child sex tourism. CIDA must also create more
protective environments for children by training everyone from children
themselves, to parents, teachers, doctors, social workers, police
officers and local and national levels of government to prevent and
respond to abuse.
Working with the tourism industry to better protect children from sexual
abuse by locals and foreign nationals. World Vision also works with law
enforcement agencies and courts to increase reporting of sexual abuse
and see through successful prosecutions.
Working globally to prevent children being targeted by travelling sex
offenders, through education and creating other ways for them and their
family to make a living.
Engaging in preventing and mitigating the effects of the commercial
sexual exploitation of children overseas. World Vision has been doing
this for more than a decade by addressing both the supply and demand
side of this problem.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy
organization dedicated to working with children, families and
communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all
people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our
News Centre at worldvision.ca
SOURCE World Vision Canada
For further information:
Tiffany Baggetta-tel. 416-305-9612, Tiffany_Baggetta@worldvision.ca