by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik e.V. – A very important interview with Damien Brosnan of the association The Code struggling against sexual exploitation of children. To read more see the website of the organisation:
Violence against children happens everywhere, in every country and across all social groups. The Code was specifically created to be a child protection tool used by the industry to combat the commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC) of children in the context of travel and tourism activities.
We talked to Damien Brosnan and asked him about strategies and ways to struggle against this so horrific crime against children who are our future and must be proteced from any kind of violence.
Milena Rampoldi: Please explain what sexual exploitation of children means and how children are sexually exploited (main scheme).
Damien Brosnan: CSEC can take many forms, each with equally devastating consequences for children and the communities in which it occurs. The main forms of CSEC are child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking of children for sexual purposes, while child sex tourism and some instances of child marriage can be considered as specific forms of child prostitution.
It occurs for a wide variety of reasons, such as wealth discrepancies, demand for child sex, gender inequalities, armed conflict, social attitudes, or extreme consumerism. No country in the world is immune to the various forms of CSEC, although individual experience and responses may differ.
MR: What does your organisation do to struggle against the phenomenon?
DB: The Code (short for “The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism”) is an industry-led organisation that specifically aims to work with the tourism industry to protect children from sex tourism.
The idea of membership is to promote vigilance and to have staff trained in identifying suspect behaviour and responding appropriately. We provide online training courses for a range of roles (front-of-house, housekeeping, management etc).
MR: ProMosaik e.V. is convinced that the problems concerns us all and that we have to struggle all together against it as society. What do you think about it?
DB: I agree with this statement – child sex tourism is both a real and potential problem all around the world. Everyone can play their part in creating a safety net for children, from police to business owners, and from NGOs to tourists themselves.
MR: What is the relation between tourism and sexual exploitation?
DB: Our view is that the tourism industry is not responsible for child abuse, but it is in a unique position to help keep children safe. Sex tourism offenders may be travelling with the intent to commit a crime, or it may be an opportunistic event.
MR: How can we protect children from these criminals?
DB: As I mentioned, we aim to develop and extend a safety net for children. This involves raising vigilance of staff and tourists alike, and promoting appropriate responses when a potential case is observed.
MR: Is it a third world problem? Why yes, and why no?
DB: This is a problem that occurs all over the world. No country in the world is immune to the various forms of CSEC, although individual experiences and responses may differ. For example, in October 2015, Operation Cross Country IX helped rescue 149 children from sexual exploitation in the USA (some of these cases were considered child sex tourism).
MR: What have you achieved until now with your activities and what do you want to achieve in the next future?
DB: We have about 250 members from around the world, from multinational hotel chains (Accor, Hilton etc) through to individual tour companies, restaurants, hotels. Over 100,000 employees have been trained either using our online training modules or through in-house training arranged by our members. Our members have also reported instances where potential cases of child sex tourism have been identified and prevented, in part due to the increased vigilance of trained staff
We hope that membership will continue to grow, and that members implement the 6 criteria of The Code to improve the safety net for children.