Travel agency joins fight to end child exploitationDecember 1st, 2011 by Guest Blogger
With the Penn State child rape scandal (and now Syracuse) still in the news, child sexual exploitation is a growing concern across the nation. In addition to pedophiles abusing children for their own sick sexual kicks, there is a whole industry of pimps and criminal networks that provide children for those whose sexual obsessions drive them to rent the bodies of younger and younger victims. Every year, thousands of children are trapped in sex trafficking, prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism – all victims coerced into a vicious cycle of abuse that robs them of their innocence.
According to the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section on Trafficking and Sex Tourism, “Each year an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold, or forced across the world’s borders [2003 U.S. State Department estimate]. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as 5, who fall victim to the sex trade.”
When faced with such daunting figures – which represent not just sheer numbers, but young lives ravaged by a very real, and often undetected, kind of slavery – it is easy to get discouraged, particularly when there are so many who choose to remain ignorant to the facts or who throw up their hands in defeat. Thus, it is encouraging to see shining examples of those who are willing to take a bold stand, especially in the private sector.
One recent example is Carlson Winglit Travel (CWT), a $27.8 billion travel agency that caters to business and leisure travelers; CWT has joined the fight to help protect children against trafficking and child sex tourism. On Nov. 16, CWT began inserting advisories on their electronic itineraries (issued in the U.S.) for passengers traveling to countries where child sex tourism is widespread, providing them with a hotline by which they can report suspicious behavior.
The advisory states the following:
UNICEF REPORTS THAT TRAFFICKING IN CHILDREN FOR PURPOSES OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IS A GLOBAL PROBLEM. THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISES ITS CITIZENS THAT ENGAGING IN SEXUAL CONDUCT WITH MINORS IS A CRIME AND IF COMMITTED OUTSIDE THE U.S. IS PUNISHABLE UPON RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES. TRAVELERS CAN HELP BY REPORTING SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY TO THE NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE: 1-888-373-7888. WHEN CALLING FROM OUTSIDE THE U.S.: +1-202-507-7966. CARLSON WAGONLIT TRAVEL SUPPORTS THE PROTECTION OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN.
The effort of this travel agency is commendable. CWT’s ability to influence travelers is substantial, as it provides services to some of the biggest and most profitable corporations worldwide, issuing hundreds of thousands of itineraries on a daily basis.
“As I read it, it just made me very happy to be a part of my company,” said Tammy Conderman, service center manager at CWT. “Just knowing that our company is taking a stand and putting effort forward against these horrible crimes brought tears to my eyes.”
“This is most definitely a praise [report] and the timing could not be better,” said Debra Kohl, field coordinator for Concerned Women for America of Missouri and a personal friend of Conderman. “Bringing awareness to a problem is the first step to solving the problem.”
Perhaps such examples of privatized corporations taking action to make a difference are exactly what our nation needs right now to serve as wake-up calls to those who sit around or occupy parks, waiting for government to solve all our problems.
Our guest blogger today is Lauren Levy, an intern with Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program. Click here for more information on internships with CWA.