Orbis Hotel Group, the leading hotel operator in the Eastern Europe, sole holder of all the AccorHotels brands in the region, and the Federation of NGOs for Children (FONPC) have signed on Monday an key document for the Romanian travel and hospitality industry: the Code of Conduct on the Child Prevention and Protection from the Sexual Exploitation in Tourism. It’s for the first time when a Romanian entity takes this pledge, a joint initiative aiming to provide tools and support in order to integrate child protection into the day-to-day operations of the hotel and tourism industry.
Early in 90s, ECPAT international (an acronym for the international NGO that assumed the mission to protect children from trafficking and sexual exploitation, End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) has created a network of 85 organizations in more than 77 countries to this end. Since then, they work with representatives of the tourism and tourism industry worldwide, to raise awareness and to fight against sexual exploitation of the children. The partnerships have been established with the stakeholders in the industry, by adopting, among many other steps, the Code of Conduct for the Child Protection against Sexual Exploitation in Tourism.
Its mission: to bring this phenomenon to light, to raise people’s awareness, to provide tools and support for the tourism industry in order to fight against and to prevent sexual exploitation of the children. The entities adopting and signing the Code of Conduct undertake to inform clients and staff about the policies of child protection, to report the possible abuse cases, along with other child protection actions.
The Code of Conduct on the Child Prevention and Protection from the Sexual Exploitation in Tourism, designed in 1996 with the support of the World Tourism Organization and of the representatives of the sector, , was first implemented in 1998. Since 2004, it was coordinated by the representatives of the tourism entities.
The tools and the support granted to the hotels in order to integrate child protection in the day-to-day operations of the staff rely on six criteria:
- To establish methods and procedures against sexual exploitation of the children, policies of identification, intervention and report of the abuse cases;
- To train and to inform employees so that they will be able to identify the possible cases of sexual exploitation of the children, in order to be able to intervene in the confirmed cases and to report these cases to the authorities to resolve them;
- To insert provisions in the commercial agreements with their partners, related to the children’s rights, joint values for the children’s rights that will reflect the entire hotel network, namely to reject and have zero tolerance towards sexual exploitation of the children;
- To be able to offer and provide information to the tourists related to the children’s rights, the consequences of the abuse and exploitation, to the prevention of these events and to the way of indicating and reporting suspect cases: either through materials presented inside the hotel, or through directly informing them, through events organized in order to raise the awareness of the community on these dangers, or through collaborations and partnerships with specialized institutions and NGOs.
- To provide support, cooperation and involvement in preventing sexual exploitation of the children, to provide recommendations, through the means detailed in the previous item, to NGOs and authorities.
- To report annually details on fulfilling the criteria of this Code of Conduct.
AccorHotels brings its contribution to the training of the hotel staff within the network worldwide (Ibis, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman, Sofitel and so on) in order to seize and report potential cases of sexually exploited children, victims of the trafficking or sexual tourism, as well as to inform clients on the Accor policies in this regard, based on the Code’s principles.
“Child protection is one of our commitments of social responsibility for a sustainable development, a key principle of the AccorHotels strategy. Orbis – our strategic partner in the Eastern Europe – is the first Romanian group of hotels that signs this Code. We aim to extensively educate and inform our clients on this unacceptable phenomenon” stated Laurent Picheral, member of the Board of AccorHotels, CEO at HotelServices for the Central & Eastern Europe.
Orbis Hotel Group, the sole holder of the AccorHotels brands in the Eastern Europe, with 120 hotels in the region, aims to establish the trend of social responsibility of the companies in the hospitality industry by continuously creating values, at the economy, environment and social level. The group has assumed its firm responsibility on social issues, where child protection is a priority, and these principles are included in the company’s Charter of Ethics and CSR.
“Since almost four years, we develop in our hotels a prevention program in cooperation with the Police and NGOs, organizing from time to time trainings for the employees, in order to inform, educate and provide as much knowledge as possible, meant to ensure and increase child protection. We are confident that once we have signed today this document, we made an important step to a wider involvement in our approach dedicated to the responsible tourism in Romania”, stated Gilles Clavie, President and CEO of the Orbis Hotel Group, in his turn.
The Federation of NGOs for Children (FONPC) aims to inform the public at large in Romania and the hotel industry on the importance of preventing sexual exploitation of the children, trafficking and sexual tourism, at the national level, through joint actions of the Romanian hotel industry, public authorities and NGOs involved in child protection.
“It is essential for all the involved parties – the hotel industry, authorities, NGOs – to know each other and to cooperate in order to efficiently intervene in the cases in which children are at risk of abuse or abuses, fighting primarily for designing a joint action plan. We wish that at the same time with training the staff in the field, we will increase the awareness of this serious phenomenon, in order to prevent it as efficiently as possible” stated Daniela Gheorghe, Executive Manager of the Federation of NGOs for Children – FONPC.
Statistics indicate that between 10 and 20 percent of the world’s children are sexually abused. Each year, nearly 2 million children are victims of the sexual exploitation in the whole world, and some of the abusers are tourists or travelers. But most of the children we are talking about become victims of the sexual slavery, as millions of images captured on the Internet prove. The phenomenon is not slowing down, given that the Internet itself is the one that eased the access to the defenseless children and to the propagation of pornographic materials. The children have more and more lower ages, images become more and more explicit, more and more violent. These are crimes with irreversible consequences on children. However, few abusers are brought to the Court. Few of these children have been identified. Most of them are anonymous, abandoned and probably still abused.
There are no statistics on the extent of the sexual abuse against children in Europe, but it’s well known that there is a big difference between the number of the seized cases and the real number of cases. Sexual exploitation remains a main purpose of the trafficking. Unlike labor trafficking, sexual exploitation has a high level in the domestic trafficking, around a half of the victims being trafficked inside the country, of which 77 percent are minors (ANITP, 2011).
The figures of the sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors in Romania 2015-2016
In 2015, 316 Romanian minors were victims of trafficking – of a total of 880 people.
276 minors of the 316 minors are girls and 40 minors are boys.
Most of them, namely 280, are teenagers aged between 14 and 17.
Most of these children, namely 142, have been exploited in enclosed private spaces, where authorities have a difficult access.
116 of them have been found in houses, 11 in clubs and 12 in the hotels in Romania.
In the first half of 2016, of the total number of 410 identified victims of the trafficking, 208 are minors.
Out of them, 182 are girls and 26 are boys.
149 minors have been sexually exploited. Out of them, 133 are girls and 16 are boys.
17 minors have been exploited in the hotels in Romania.