In 2021, Mexican airline Volaris prevented a 16-year old girl from being trafficked for sexual purposes by a man who had initially contacted her through social media. Here’s how ECPAT México has successfully been involved with the travel and tourism sector and beyond, to make child protection a priority in Mexico.
EDIAC/ECPAT México was founded 28 years ago as a non-profit organisation by a team of professionals from different areas of knowledge and specialization. From the onset, the team was committed to preventing the sexual exploitation of children through advocacy, awareness-raising, research, and prevention initiatives. Their goal is to improve the well-being and life conditions of vulnerable children and children at risk of being victims of child sexual exploitation.
Key achievements in recent years
Throughout the years, ECPAT México’s work has presented significant achievements in preventing the sexual exploitation of children and child relief and support. ECPAT México has largely pushed to pass laws to protect children and penalise child sexual exploitation-related crimes, they have convened different actors in advocacy efforts to protect and promote children’s rights, developed methodologies to boost child participation in campaigns to prevent the sexual exploitation of children, and have conducted research and studies to raise awareness of this issue across the country.
ECPAT México has successfully been involved with the travel and tourism sector by engaging companies in prevention efforts, both at a national and a local level in the main tourist destinations in México. A successful example can be seen in the case of Volaris, the Mexican airline that is a The Code member.
Preventing a 16-year old girl form being trafficked for sexual exploitation
In 2021, Volaris prevented a 16-year old girl from being trafficked for sexual purposes by a man who had initially contacted her through social media. Volaris implemented ECPAT/The Code policy and contacted the police to ensure the girl’s safety and assist the investigation. This success story exemplifies ECPAT Mexico’s collaborative approach to working with the private sector by implementing clear protocols and procedures to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
This was not the first time that a child was saved. Back in 2018, flight attendants trained in ECPAT/The Code’s policy, prevented another case of sexual exploitation of a 14 years old girl. She had been groomed by strangers through social media and trafficked. The airline staff worked together with law enforcement to help stop the criminals and protect the girl until she could be reunited with her family.
You can learn more about the story here:
Challenges ahead as offenders find new ways to sexually exploit children
Despite the significant progress , EDIAC/ECPAT México, continues to face new and bigger challenges, because of the ways children are being exploited are transforming. Strengthening the network and cross-sectoral coordination is an effective strategy to tackle this crime.
As part of these efforts, EDIAC/ECPAT México, on behalf of ECPAT International, spoke on challenges to child protection during the post-COVID-19 recovery in the panel on Sustainability through Social Responsibility at the World Travel and Tourism Council, WTTC’s annual Global Summit in Cancun. This event featured industry leaders who met to take action on the biggest and most important issues across the international agenda. You can now watch all recordings from the Summit on-demand: http://ow.ly/l9kK50ELJVj
EDIAC/ECPAT México also contributed to the development of The Code Voluntourism Policy www.thecode.org/voluntourism to call upon industry – from the perspective of the recovery of travel sector, to exclude visits to orphanages from tourism packages. Such a practice has been shown to drive institutionalisation, which causes harm to children and ensures that only responsible and safe forms of voluntourism are undertaken as part of sustainable and responsible travel and tourism development.
Read our post (2019): The Dark Side of Cancún