The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Report on child sexual exploitati­on launched


ASUB-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 chil- dren, 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

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Dr Mzembi

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