As we already talked about some weeks ago, the current Covid-19 situation has led to an increase of criminal activities including online soliciting of minors who are most vulnerable during this pandemic. Unfortunately, the soliciting of minors is not only online.
Covid-19 has an impact not only on citizens’ health but also on the global economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, more than 75 million jobs are at risk in the global tourism. The most affected regions are Latin America (with more than 10 million jobs at risk), followed by East Asia (49 million jobs at risk). Job loss causes poverty and inequality making children, who are the most fragile, even more vulnerable and therefore easier to lure both online and in the tourism sector.
In Bolivia, local hotels have turned to “ECPAT Bolivia”, the foundation of Munasim Kullakita. They asked for help to recognize and combat situations of child sexual exploitation and / or abuse in the tourism and travel field. ECPAT Bolivia responded to the request by setting criteria and procedures collected in “The Code” (global initiative of ECPAT International) in order to be used in some of those situations.
Here you can read an example:
“At a hotel in Bolivia, a teenager arrived in the morning, requesting a room for herself and her older cousin, who she said would arrive later. The receptionist got worried as she noticed that the girl wasn’t dressed for cold weather and didn’t have any identification. The receptionist started talking in a friendly way with the girl and asked her questions to see if her story seemed accurate. After discovering some inconsistencies, the receptionist immediately began following the hotel’s child protection procedure and told management and relevant authorities about the situation. The hotel also contacted local child protection services and law enforcement.”
Thanks to the correct conduct of the hotel, a minor was saved from sexual exploitation and abuse. Many hotels in Bolivia have shown themselves to be responsible and collaborative in this sense and are an example to be imitated so that minors, even in the tourism sector, are safeguarded from all forms of sexual exploitation.