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Published on Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sex Tourism & World Cup: South Africa Throws Down Gauntlet



 

FTTSA launches child protection code; Cape Town Tourism hits out against human sex trafficking
 
Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), has launched of a new project to institutionalize the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct ("the Code") in South Africa whilst Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold threw down the gauntlet to human traffickers.
 
The Child Protection Code, which started as a project of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes International (ECPAT International), has been developed as a Corporate Social Responsibility tool for tourism businesses and is an industry-driven, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to mobilise the tourism industry to protect children at risk of exploitation and report offenders.
 
While CST is not strongly associated with South Africa as a tourist destination, high poverty levels and growing inequality since 1994 suggest that tens of thousands of children are at risk of sexual and other forms of exploitation.
 
Domestic as well as foreign visitors may knowingly or unknowingly become involved in child exploitation, for example by transacting sex with an underage sex worker or buying goods from a trader exploiting child labour.
 
Said Jennifer Seif , CEO: "FTTSA believes that protecting vulnerable children is a critical element of '2010 readiness' and we look forward to supporting tourism enterprises of all shapes and sizes to implement the Code,"
 
In a separate move, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold threw down the gauntlet to human traffickers. Du Toit-Helmbold said: "Our message is very clear - we welcome visitors from all over the world. But you will not be welcome if you exploit our women and children."
 
She said the protection of women and children, through tourism, was essential.
 
"When people travel with the intention to exploit women and children, it becomes a matter of interest for tourism. It has to be. We cannot turn a blind eye and just focus on the pretty postcard pictures. There is a dark underbelly in tourism whether we like it or not. And that underbelly needs to be exposed and proactively dealt with," Du Toit-Helmbold said.
 
"If we don"t do this, we can"t call ourselves a responsible industry. So, under the auspices of responsible tourism, we also tackle things like sex tourism, child sex tourism, the exploitation of women and human trafficking."
 
Statistics around human trafficking are frightening. Figures suggest that within 20 minutes, you can order fast food from any restaurant - and a child under six years of age. "It"s a global problem," said Du Toit-Helmbold, "And it"s a problem that often goes hand in hand with developing societies."
 
"Responsible tourism is about not doing harm to the environment, to host communities, and so on. I am passionate about making a positive difference to tourism, and I think many people, for many years, have turned a blind eye to the ugly underbelly of tourism. But we can"t ignore it - it"s a fact of life. We can"t wish it away. We have to deal with it proactively."
 
"We can all talk a good game, but it"s really about developing some practical tools to empower the industry and to empower visitors to Cape Town. "Our message is plain and simple; if you are going to make yourself guilty of irresponsible behaviour, you are not welcome."
 
Jennifer Seif added that during the FIFA event, a national campaign to protect children will be ongoing, including messages - specifically designed to help prevent and report child sexual exploitation and other forms of child abuse - targeting tourists.
 
Valere Tjolle
Valere Tjolle is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report Suite, special offer at: www.travelmole.com/stories/1142003.php


 

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