‘Code of conduct on anvil to prevent exploitation’The government is planning to introduce a code of conduct to avoid exploitation of children in the tourism sector, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ananda Prasad Pokharel has said.
The government is planning to introduce a code of conduct to avoid exploitation of children in the tourism sector, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ananda Prasad Pokharel has said.
“We depend heavily on tourism for revenue and had concentrated on making this sector friendly for travellers without thinking it could have such a huge consequence on children,” said Pokharel, reiterating government’s commitment to ensure children’s right to grow up without having to face any problems.
Minister’s comment follows a report of ECPAT, a global network of civil society organisations, that suggests a surge in tourist numbers has adverse effect on children, leaving them vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
The report titled ‘Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism (SECTT) has warned that sexual exploitation of children has expanded into new destinations across the world with the boom in the travel and tourism.
The findings from nine regional reports (East Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, North America, The Pacific, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa) reveal similarities, such as an increased diversification of travel and tourism infrastructure and the increased use by offenders of mobile technologies, while also highlighting challenges that are specific to each region.
Shedding light on the report, ECPAT board member Sumnima Tuladhar said mobility in the region and growing use of internet for creating new generation of predators as the main factors behind the increase in child exploitation, including sexual abuse.
The report on Nepal was prepared with inputs from NGOs working in this sector—CWIN, Maiti Nepal and Shakti Samuha.
The study has also debunked a myth that children are sexually exploited, especially by outsiders by digging facts that White, western, wealthy, middle-aged men are no longer the typical offender.
“Offenders can be foreign or local, young or old, some are paedophiles, but most are not,” it says, adding that children from minority groups, boys and young children are far more vulnerable than previously understood, along with girls and children living in poverty.
Involvement of non-tourists in activities that bring them into direct contact with children creates opportunities for preferential and situational offenders to gain access to potential victims, according to the report.
“When a foreigner approaches to volunteer in shelter homes they welcome him with open arms without checking his background leaving children vulnerable in their care. We are working to ensure shelter homes do not allow that kind of freedom to visitors,” said Tarak Dhital, executive director at Central Child Welfare Board.
The report has also pointed out the lack of coordination and information sharing between authorities for a low conviction rate in cases related to the sexual exploitation of children, which means the majority of offenders evade justice.