Violence against children happens everywhere, in every country and across all social groups. In 2016, ECPAT International coordinated a Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism (SECTT) that sheds light on the latest trends and patters of SECTT worldwide.
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. Although CSEC can take many forms, The Code has been specifically developed to target child sex tourism. Often, tourists go out of their way to travel to countries where child prostitution is common so that they can have sexual contact with children. Other times, travelers spontaneously decide to experiment with children because they believe that this kind of behavior is more acceptable in certain countries.
An estimated 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years of age experience sexual exploitation or other forms of sexual violence according to the UN Global Study on Violence against Children. Every year, millions of children are bought and sold for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The International Labour Organisation [ILO] estimates that approximately 5.5 million are being exploited in force labour, including forced sexual exploitation.
The Code encourages the practice of responsible, sustainable tourism by tourism companies from around the world. By enacting responsible policies, members of The Code play an essential role in protecting children from the sexual exploitation that is particularly prevalent in this industry. In addition, The Code exists in order to inform travelers that child sex exploitation is never okay, no matter what country they visit.