ECPAT-USA Raises Awareness of America’s Role in a Pandemic of Abuses Against Children
One-quarter of child sex tourists around the world are North Americans – primarily US and Canadian males – according to ECPAT-USA. These are individuals who travel from their own country to another to engage in sexual acts with minors – minors who are either tricked or forced into a life of prostitution. It’s a growing problem that many Americans either aren’t aware of or have a hard time understanding. But ECPAT-USA is determined to change that.
Funded by the U.S. State Department and the Body Shop Foundation, ECPAT is working to engage North American travel and tourism businesses in a Code of Conduct for the protection of children from sexual exploitation (www.thecode.org). Companies that sign on to the Code of Conduct are asked:
- To establish a corporate ethical policy against the exploitation of children ␣
- To train personnel to look out for and report these abuses
- To engage their suppliers in the Code of Conduct
- To provide travelers, tourists and local “key persons” at destinations with public awareness education that discourages child sex tourism
“So far large numbers of companies in Mexico and Belize and several U.S. travel businesses have signed on to the Code and are committed to doing their part to end child sex tourism,” says ECPAT-USA Executive Director, Carol Smolenski. “But we still have a long way to go to get people to recognize that child sex tourism is a big industry. We need more U.S. businesses and residents to stand up for the protection of these children from sexual predators.”
To raise awareness of child sex tourism, to thank the socially-responsible businesses that do follow the Code of Conduct and to encourage those businesses not yet participating in the initiative, ECPAT-USA is hosting a 5K fun run around Roosevelt Island in NYC on Saturday, May 23 at 10am.
“The purpose of this race is to make people aware of the role the U.S. plays in child sex tourism. It’s a crime that can be prevented through education and the creation and enforcement of laws that protect children,” says Smolenski.
ECPAT encourages individuals to show their support for children’s rights by registering for the 5K race. Businesses interested in joining the Code of Conduct initiative should contact ECPAT-USA directly at 718-935-9192.
For more information about child sex tourism or to schedule an interview with Carol Smolenski, please contact Deanna Peiffer at 646.422.9314 or email Deanna_Peiffer@hotmail.com
ECPAT- USA Inc. is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status
What: Run for Children’s Rights 5K When: Saturday, May 23, Registration from 9:00-10:00 am
Where: Roosevelt Island, NY Why: Rally support for ending child sex tourism How: Register for the race on-line or by calling 718.935.9192
Food, beverage and entertainment will be available after the race.
ECPAT International is a global network of organizations working together for the elimination of child trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography. The network comprises of 81 groups in 74 countries around the world. All ECPAT groups are independent grassroots organizations, working to combat child exploitation at the local level. Their size varies depending on countries, but they are mainly activist-driven movements, and very often operate with limited funding. Their core strengths focus on key areas of child protection, where they are pro-active through their staff and supporters, rather than large administrative functions. Some of them are called “ECPAT” while others have different names. All are affiliated with the ECPAT network. ECPAT-USA is the North American arm of ECPAT International and is the host of the “Run for Children’s Rights” 5K fun run.