Action Alert: Taking Action Against Human Trafficking
Join CBIS and encourage hotels to take action to fight the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Download a letter to bring to hotels here, or cut and paste the text of the letter here.
For the past 20 years, CBIS and other religious investors have helped companies avoid suppliers who use forced labor and child labor - - two forms of Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking exploits human beings for revenue. It is a crime that represents a grave offense against the dignity of the person and is a serious violation of human rights. We would like to enlist your help in expanding our work combating Human Trafficking.
Child Sex Tourism (CST) is a form of trafficking and an organized multimillion-dollar industry with its own tour guides, websites, and brothel maps. In a report, The U.S. State Department estimates that as many as two million children are trapped in a global commercial sex trade. Victims are commonly linked by poverty and lack of opportunity.
As can be the case with some human rights concerns, corporate management may express sympathy for the cause of CST and other sexual exploitation and for its victims but believe they are powerless to combat it through corporate policy development.
However, a group of tour operators have created a constructive response working with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that has evolved into a six-point “Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism” Known as The Code, it is supported by UNWTO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the European Union, along with a number of national governments. Nearly 1000 companies in 23 countries are now signators to this useful framework for guiding anti-CST policy development. The Code asks companies to:
- Establish an ethical policy that specifically mentions the need to protect children from sexual exploitation.
- Train personnel how to respond to evidence of CST.
- Introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers stating a common repudiation of exploitation of children.
- Communicate with travelers through catalogues, brochures, and web pages to publicize the intolerance of CST.
- Provide information to local officials, taxi drivers, and community representatives and other key persons at tourist destinations.
- Report annually on actions and results.
Believe it or not, only five American companies and organizations have signed The Code. Most are reluctant to commit, believing they can create and implement a program on their own. While laudable, it has not proven to be the case. A handful of U.S. hotel companies have one or two elements of The Code, but most are not striving to develop a substantive approach.
Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), an association of 275 faith-based institutional investors, are in dialogue with more than twenty companies in the tourism industry, asking them to assess their risk of exposure to human trafficking and to sign The Code.
Read about CBIS’ engagement with Wyndham Worldwide, a major hotel chain with 6,500 hotels in 59 countries in the Shareholder Advocacy Directory and scroll down to “Wyndham”.
YOU CAN HELP.
When you stay at a hotel, provide them with this letter (Download a Word document here or scroll down to cut and paste text). Just fill in your name and address and provide it at check-in. Where appropriate and your organization agrees, put it on letterhead.
With this action, we will let hotels know of our concerns about Human Trafficking and encourage them to formulate a response, while sharing information about a common framework used by many members of the tourism industry. Together we can work to protect children and put our faith into practice.
Please let us know when you use this letter and if you receive a response. We’ll track the number of letters distributed as well as responses received. Email us at: SRIACTION@CBISONLINE.COM.
Watch this space for updates and to learn of additional actions you can take to improve the environmental and social performance of companies.
Learn more about Human Trafficking
Text of Letter:
I am very concerned about the issue of human trafficking, a phenomenon that affects virtually every country, including the United States. As a guest at your hotel, I wanted to share information and learn what you and your parent company are doing to protect human rights and educate your staff.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. Some of the most vulnerable who fall prey to trafficking are children, through prostitution and sex tourism.
Many major hotels now have or are working to create an ethical policy against commercial sexual exploitation of children, to train hotel staff to help identify human trafficking, and to partner with government and social service agencies. Reporting on your website the actions your company is taking would help keep guests like me informed of your commitment, is evidence of proactive and attentive management, and is an important aspect of corporate social responsibility.
Developing a corporate policy, training staff, and reporting publicly are components of an industry-wide Code of Conduct called The Code (www.thecode.org), a practical tool facilitating the protection of children’s rights by the travel and tourism sector. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative in collaboration with ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking – www.ecpat.net) with over 800 members in 32 countries and is recognized among tourism industry associations, governments, and child rights and protection organizations, such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Signatories include Carlson Companies, Accor, and the American Society of Travel Agents.
Please give this letter to the Hotel Manager and to the company CEO so that senior management can learn of my interest in this issue and can respond. I have provided my name and address below. As the marketplace increasingly demonstrates, companies must be aware of and sensitive to social and ethical issues. As a customer, the moral and ethical standards a hotel embraces as evidenced by its policies and practices are very important to me.
By taking action to eradicate human trafficking, including the sexual exploitation of children, your hotel can signal your commitment to human rights. At the same time, I can feel comfortable that I am giving my business to a responsible member of our local and global community.
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