Throughout the week, Richard Quest, of Quest Means Business, has tackled the issue of sex tourism - the act of traveling to another country with the intention of soliciting sex from prostitutes. While this may seem condemnable in itself, the real tragedy occurs when these prostitutes are children who have fallen victim to sex trafficking.
We started the week off with a success story in Dan Rivers’ piece on Thai sex trafficking - the Thai Police busted a sex slavery ring, rescuing nine young boys who had been held captive and abused. The ring leader was sentenced to 84 years in prison (later halved because the convicted cooperated with investigators and the court), and a monk who admitted to abusing the boys was sentenced to 21 years in prison. While a definite success, there is still much work to be done.
Fortunately, there are efforts being made to put an end to sex tourism. We interviewed several experts in the field, including John Morton , the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He discussed the operation Twisted Traveler, which actively pursues Americans who travel abroad and abuse children. The operation’s achievements are possible because of the cooperative relationship it has with international partners.
Several preventative efforts are under way as well. For example, ECPAT has partnered with Accor Hotels. As explained by Sophie Goldbum-Flak, executive vice president of Accor, has committed to raising awareness of the issue and is training its staff to identify victims and properly deal with the situation.
Jennifer Silberman, vice president of global diversity and corporate responsibility with Hilton, has also spoken to us about Hilton’s role in the fight against human trafficking. We also heard from Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Carlson Companies, and Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General.
Nelson shared with us what her travel companies are doing to prevent the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism industries. The companies have agreed to train employees, report perpetrators, inform travelers of the legal penalties involved if they are found guilty, and help in the development of a global code for other companies in the industry to follow. Taleb Rifai also discussed what companies can do, but also what steps governments around the world can take.