Canada has ratified the UNCRC and committed itself to protecting children from sexual exploitation at the 2002 UN Special Session on Children and the three World Congresses Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. In Canada, extraterritorial legislation exists that allows child sex offenders to be prosecuted in Canada for crimes committed in other countries. Despite the convictions of Donald Bakker, Kenneth Klassen, Armand Huard, and Denis Rochefort, and more than a hundred investigations of Canadians committing sexual crimes against children abroad, the majority of the Canadian public isn’t familiar with our child sex tourism law and its consequences.
In 2005, OneChild’s youth members mobilized themselves to plant the seed for the first public awareness initiative with the Canadian travel and tourism industry. The goal: sensitize Air Canada — a key player in the arena — to the problem of CSEC and its connection to tourism, and invite them to collaborate with young people in promoting child-wise tourism. Armed with creativity, passion, and determination, our youth members succeeded in partnering with Air Canada in launching a petition and producing an inflight-video for Air Canada to sensitize over 400,000 passengers per month on the social, legal, and humanitarian consequences of engaging in child sex tourism, and call them to action. The youth-run campaign has since been hailed as a “best practice” by the World Tourism Organization’s Task Force for the Protection of Children.
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