ACTE Session Spotlights Child Prostitution And Trafficking

An Association of Corporate Travel Executives conference session this week on the trafficking of children for the purpose of prostitution offered a rude awakening to the goings-on that international travel may facilitate. But perhaps more disturbing was the fact that just three U.S. companies from the travel and tourism sector had signed a "no tolerance" code of conduct that the not-for-profit organization End Child Prostitution and Trafficking created in 1998. [more] More than 1,000 companies worldwide have agreed to the code of conduct that stipulates their employees do not engage in acts of sexual violence against children, but for the most part, those in the United States have inexplicably resisted or ignored the issue.

The U.S. participants are Amazon Tours, Carlson Companies and the American Society of Travel Agents. Separately, Starwood Hotels and Resorts created a related policy to which employees must comply, and Wyndham Hotels Worldwide has donated over one million rewards points to provide hotel rooms for the children who are rescued. According to panelist Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT, many U.S. companies are hesitant to sign because the code would be an acknowledgment of these practices. Said one unnamed airline official, "We don't want to be seen as the pedophile carrier of choice."

A.T. Kearney global procurement director of corporate travel Margaret Hansen suggested that corporations should invest in charities and not-for-profit organizations that focus on this issue--similar to the ways companies purchase credits to offset their carbon footprints.

Here is a related report.