The UK’s Guardian reported on Tuesday that children in care are to get more protection against ‘export trade’. This is not a follow-up to the issue which is being raised in Cambodia and which was raised last year during WTMWRTD. This is a story about the UK.
The Guardian reported that the UK government will announce measures shortly to end the “export trade” in vulnerable children around the English regions that has led to concentrations of care homes, some a short walk away from convicted sex offenders. In the UK private industry has set up clusters of care homes for vulnerable young people to save costs in cheaper areas – such as the deprived north-west or along the coast.
In the UK this looks like a lucrative business. The UK’s children’s minister said £1bn a year was being spent on 5,000 children in care – an average of £200,000 per child. The Guardian reports that that there has been a rise in financial firms buying up companies that provide social services. Baird Capital, a private equity firm, owns Castlecare’s 40 children’s homes – which in 2009 was in the headlines for charging £378,000 to a council for one child. Two of England’s three biggest private providers of foster placements are owned by City firms.
Tourism and Child Protection has long been a major concern of many people working within the industry including World Travel Market who, in the past, has worked with the UNWTO and ECPAT, the champion of children’s rights, promoting greater awareness and recognition of the issues.
This year’s session on Touirsm and Child Protection, on Tuesday of World Travel Market is focussing not on paedophilia so much as the broader challenge of ensuring child protection whether the issue arises amongst the tourists, in their families, or between the tourists and local children.
The panel will explore how the industry can more effectively address the challenge of protecting children.
Disquiet continues to grow as travel and tourism unwittingly contributes to internal child trafficking. Unscrupulous orphanages are recruiting or purchasing children to ‘earn’ money from tourists.
Child protection is not just about paedophilia
Nowhere is responsible travel more important than in the area of child protection and the prevention of abuse. The abuse by paedophiles is an obvious danger to address – but their are other dangers: the removal of children from their communities to spurious orphanages; the use of children to beg from and sell to tourists, child labour, children being left to fend for themselves while parents party.
Michael Horton of ConCERT Cambodia, a key player in the development of child protection in Cambodia, spoke eloquently about this at last year’s WTMWRTD – and this year he chairs the panel.