THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IN TOURISM:

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1 CAPACITY BUILDING SEMINAR ON: THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IN TOURISM: Holiday Hotel Sihanoukville, Kingdom of Cambodia April 22 & 23, 2010 Organized by: With Funding Support From: 0

2 This seminar was designed to educate and motivate relevant stakeholders from the government, the private sector and the non-governmental sector to work together to combat child sex tourism (CST) in Cambodia and internationally. Particular focus was on members of the tourism sector and how they may implement anti-cst measures within their establishments. The two-day seminar was designed as a learning forum at which participants could share ideas and experiences to work together to combat CST. Proceedings Opening Ceremonies: In the beginning of opening ceremony, ECPAT Cambodia s Program Officer, Mr Eang Seng Eav introduced the subjects for discussion and ran through the program. His introduction was followed by opening remarks from Mr Chin Chanveasna, Executive Director of ECPAT- Cambodia and Mr Giorgio Berardi, Program Officer for combating CST of ECPAT International. Guest of honor, Som Chanda, director of the provincial tourism office, closed the opening ceremonies with a speech detailing the current state of tourism in Sihanoukville, as well as challenges that may be faced in the future. Training Seminar: Mr. Berardi began the training by asking participants to write down their expectations for the training seminar. Most participants stated their desire to learn more about CST, increase their understanding of CST and learn prevention measures. Training then went on to present news articles detailing a few selected cases of CST in Cambodia. It was further elaborated that despite the fact that these news stories are evidence of the problem of CST in Cambodia, the high level of reporting on the issue of CST was paramount in disseminating information and educating the public. Mr. Chanveasna discussed what are the common perceptions of the appearance and attributes of Commercial Sex Tourists. Participants were divided into small groups and asked to draw what they perceived a sex tourist to look like. Following a presentation of the drawings, these common misconceptions were corrected such as sex tourists are only males, generally older and are foreigners. Most of the groups correctly identified the varied appearance, age, gender, nationality and background that could compose a sex tourist. 1

3 A presentation was then given on three types of sex tourists: 1. Pedophile: individuals who are affected by clinical condition that makes them exclusively attracted to very young children, 2. Preferential Child Sex Tourist: individuals with an active sexual preference for children, but who are also attracted to adults. Their normal target groups are generally aged Situational Child Sex Tourist: compose the largest category of CST offenders. They are not necessarily attracted to children, but may expect sexual encounters during their travels and are unaware or not picky about age. They may like young people, but don t make a real distinction between individuals above/below 18 years old. They may be unaware that they are breaking the law, or if they are aware, they don t feel threatened by it. Participants were asked to identify which type of CST perpetrator is most likely to be caught. One participant thought that in Sihanoukville, pedophiles were the most common, but in the rest of Cambodian situational sex tourists are more likely to be caught. Mr. Berardi stated that pedophiles get caught the most often b/c they are repeat offenders and have a higher likelihood of being arrested. Mr. Berardi then gave a presentation on Child Sex Tourism: Where, Who and How? and highlighted the major destinations and hot-spots of CST around the world. As well as the profiles and methods used by tourists. Despite detailing commonalities and patterns identified with regards to perpetrators of CST, Mr. Berardi made it clear that anyone could be a potential child sex tourist and that it can occur anywhere. He also highlighted that factors such as legal age of consent and major events (sporting, conferences etc.) are also a factor in explaining the popularity of some areas for CST. A victim profile was also shared, again with the elaboration that victims are not limited to a certain economic background, ethnicity etc. A discussion on how CST occurs was then put forth citing the discrepancies in wealth between tourists and local underprivileged children, as well as the high level of exposure and contact between working children and tourists. A small group discussion then took place on the factors leading to CST, groups were asked to make a list detailing causes and factors influencing CST. Some of the responses that were shared include: poverty, low education, domestic violence, Internet communication, weakness of legal prosecution, gambling, and drug abuse, among others. One answer that was not presented by the groups and that was highlighted by Mr. Berardi was unregulated tourism development. Mr. Chanveasna continued the seminar with a discussion of the common misconceptions about CST. Particularly highlighting the issues of consent and demand within CST. Participants were then taught about the negative impacts of CST on victims and possible repercussions to society as a whole. Factors that were raised particularly relating to the tourism sector included a loss of cultural identity, damage to image of destination and tourism industry, and undermining of sustainable tourism development. Following lunch, the afternoon session began by connecting sex tourists and the tourism sector; Showing the links and points of contact that sex tourists have with the tourism industry and where prevention measures can be implemented. Mr. Berardi supplied a few 2

4 examples of ways to raise awareness on CST such as brochures, luggage tags etc. Modes of transport and venues of exploitation were also discussed regarding areas where CST intervention could take place. Participants then viewed a series of video clips that raised awareness on and deterred CST from occurring in different countries around the world. The videos messages ranged from showing the victims perspectives, displaying prison sentences of sex tourists and affirming illegality to showing the chain of exploitation that occurs in sex tourist destinations. In small groups, participants completed a question form on the video clips and were asked to design anti-cst slogans that they would use in a video. Participants varied on whether they thought a hard or soft approach was the best way to raise awareness and prevent CST. Some of the slogans that presented were: Zero chance to sexually abuse in this country Children are not market goods Sex with children is a crime; to protect children, please contact this number Following the group discussion and presentations, Mr. Berardi went on to discuss the unique position of the tourism industry in combating CST. The tourism sector is able to raise awareness to both mainstream travelers, who would be likely to report suspicious behavior, and situational offenders, who become aware that their illicit activities don t go unnoticed. Ways in which the tourism industry are able to affect CST is to, proactively become part of its prevention, protect children in tourist destinations, report the issue to relevant authorities and influence tourism policy makers. Participants were then asked to draft a concise company policy against CST. Participants applied various policies including reporting procedures, staff training, staff screening procedures, not allowing unaccompanied minors to stay in their establishment and not allowing pornography, among others. A few of the participants already had some policy measures in place such as not allowing minors to stay without family members, raising awareness among staff and displaying anti-cst poster in hotel. Other participants who did not yet have an active anti-cst policy in place expressed a desire to do so. DAY 2: The second day of training began with a recap of the previous day s proceedings. And proceeded by continuing the discussion of implementing a child protection policy and procedure. Mr. Berardi explained the importance of a clear and concise policy, that staff need to be made aware of policy and that the policy needs to be implemented and not just exist on paper. An example of an effective policy was given to participants as a possible template for their own policy development. It was stated that a good policy will have a practical effect and clear implementation procedures for staff to follow. Mr. Berardi also raised the fact that most tourists prefer to travel with companies that take a strong stance against CST; therefore a loss of business is not likely with the introduction of an anti-cst policy. Discussion was then held as to whether establishing anti-cst policies are feasible in Sihanoukville. Concerns that participants raised were that only larger hotels and establishments would be able to enforce these restrictions on guests, smaller hotels cannot afford to turn away business. Mr. Berardi addressed these concerns by stating that these policies are not expected to be implemented 3

5 at a universal level overnight and that smaller guesthouses will be able to contribute to fighting CST in their own small way. The more checks that situational offenders encounter, the less likely they are to offend. He further stressed that the sustainability of the tourism industry in Sihanoukville will start with small-scale advocacy and lobbying with the local tourism authority. A presentation was then given on what suspicious behavior to look for when identifying potential child sex predators. Individuals who are seen regularly interacting with vulnerable children, individuals alone with children and those who give gifts, money or foods to children. Different individuals and businesses were identified that should be reported were identified including tourists asking for sex with minors, tourists entering locations known for underage sex, brokers (both individuals and companies), and establishments that employ children prostitutes. Within this, Mr. Berardi further elaborated on the different type of abuse towards children that are illegal. Participants were then instructed on what details should be noted about both the perpetrator and the victim when reporting suspicious behavior towards children to the police, hotlines or other relevant stakeholders, including the perpetrators embassy (if nationality is known). Some of these include, but aren t limited to: Make note of direction/make of vehicle/license plate Take their picture or follow them, if feasible Hotels are able to supply passport #, photocopy etc. which are details that witnesses/bystanders do not have access to Description of child/name of child if possible Reporting form template was distributed to participants in order to ensure that in reporting cases of possible CST, all relevant data is able to be passed on to relevant authorities. A small group of participants performed a role-play about a hotel employee stopping a guest from going to his room with a possible underage girl. The remaining participants were divided into groups to pay particular attention to the different roles in the role-play and answer questions on them. Following the role play each of the characters in the role-play was discussed, and the way they acted in the situation was evaluated. Mr. Berardi then gave some suggestions to participants with regards to behavior when confronting/questioning guests. be firm but polite explain company policy keep referring to policy if there is an argument remember what you are doing is the right thing do not be scared or nervous when confronting them, it is just procedure. The next topic of discussion centered on advocacy in the private sector. Different mediums for spreading information in CST were discussed such as: brochures, videos, posters, 4

6 website links, luggage tags, ticket covers etc. Another area identified that the private sector can participate in is the furthering of social welfare programs. Corporate responsibility is becoming much more mainstream than in the past, and as a result programs that facilitate community development are becoming popular among the tourism private sector. Programs focusing on vocational training for at risk youth or survivors of child abuse and sexual exploitation will not only benefit the community at large, but also bolster company image and reputation. Mr. Chanveasna shared with participants the police hotline in Sihanoukville, ChildSafe hotline and also shared with participants ECPAT-Cambodia s expansion of its anti-cst tuk tuk campaign into Sihanoukville. Other NGOs operating in Sihanoukville were identified as a source of knowledge and help in reporting CST cases. The final presentation was on the Code of Conduct, its inception, secretariat, role in combating CST and its implications and effects on CST globally. The 6 principles of the Code of Conduct were outlined for participants. The trainers then asked for feedback from participants on their impressions on the Code and its applicability in Sihanoukville and greater Cambodia. A few concerns were raised by participants including the principle that states that suppliers must be held accountable for CST actions as well as on the production of annual reports for the Code secretariat. Both Mr. Chanveasna and Mr. Berardi addressed these questions by saying that suppliers also need to be held accountable and that the annual report was brief and a template was provided for members. Closing Ceremonies: The seminar ended with a few closing remarks from both trainers and a review of expectations to determine if they had been met. Participants stated that they had gained more experience on the issue of CST, especially regarding offender and victim profiles and how to help protect children who are victims of CST. Participants completed evaluation forms 5

7 before leaving and were awarded with certificates for attendance and participation in the training. 6

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