Monday, 16 January 2017 12:49

ZIMBABWE: Report on child sexual exploitation launched

14 January 2017 - A Sub-Saharan Africa Study Report on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism (SECTT) was launched recently at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Harare by the Honourable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe, Dr Walter Mzembi, who is also the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Regional Commission for Africa Chairperson, and the African Union Candidate for the position of UNWTO Secretary General. The launch was a joint initiative by ECPAT International and the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) and the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

The Report is part of the Global Study on SECTT – launched in May 2016 – commissioned by ECPAT International, with extensive and collaborative research efforts by a range of partners across continents. In sub-Saharan Africa, the study was conducted at the national level in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia in collaboration with the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).

The UNWTO data indicates that tourism in Africa has tripled in the last two decades, and at the close of the year 2015, arrivals to Africa were at 54 million.

The Sub-Saharan Africa SECTT report illustrates that although tourism can provide great economic opportunities for African economies, it also presents foreseeable risks to children if adequate protection measures are not in place; increase in travel and tourism in the region has multiplied the avenues and opportunities for children to become vulnerable to travelling child sex offenders.

It means therefore national governments and tourism operators should adopt strategies to mitigate the challenge, and ensure domestication of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, particularly Article 1, section 3 that calls for prohibition of "exploitation of human beings in any form, particularly sexual, especially when applied to children, conflicts with the fundamental aims of tourism and is the negation of tourism; as such, in accordance with international law, it should be energetically combated with the cooperation of all the States concerned and penalized without concession by the national legislation of both the countries visited and the countries of the perpetrators of these acts, even when they are carried out abroad".

According to the report, "While tourism has historically been associated with North and West African countries (such as Morocco and Senegal) an influx of tourists seeking sex with children - including individuals from other African countries - is now being reported elsewhere in the continent".

"Tourism has the potential to unleash massive gains for African economies and development, but it is our duty to ensure that necessary protection mechanisms are established and implemented to prevent children from suffering unintended consequences," said Honourable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Dr Walter Mzembi.

According to the report, although progress has been made since the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) that took place in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1996, the proliferation of the Internet and mobile technology has made it possible for perpetrators to anonymously groom and seduce children, thus making them increasingly vulnerable to sexual exploitation. 

The Sub-Saharan Africa report provides an up-to-date analysis on the status of SECTT in the region and offers a range of recommendations to bolster government and private sector responses for preventing and combating the SECTT crime.

Intended as a means to generate more useful and updated information, as well as to raise awareness on the issues of CSEC and SECTT, the report is also envisioned as a way to aid the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals relating to the rights of children to live free from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Source: The Herald (Zimbabwe)

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