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Indian gov't plans code of conduct for 'safe' tourism
February 03, 2010

Indian gov't plans code of conduct for 'safe' tourism


03 February 2010

Ranjeet S. Jamwal, New Delhi:

In view of the increasing incidences of rape, sexual offences, sexual abuse of children, particularly street-children, the tourism ministry has finalised a “code of conduct” for the industry to prevent any form of exploitation of children.

Apart from preventing sexual exploitation of children and women, the “code of conduct for safe and honourable tourism” also aims to protect India’s culture, values and heritage.

As 70 per cent of sex workers in the country are children, the code has specific guidelines for hotels, tour operators and airlines for preventing sexual exploitation of children by guests.

It has been finalised after consulting all stakeholders in the tourism sector, including state governments. According to sources in the tourism ministry, the code of conduct will be implemented once it gets the approval of the tourism minister Miss Selja. The most likely date for its implementation is 8 March (International Women’s Day).

When the code of conduct comes into effect, suppliers of tourism services will have to take measures to protect children against sexual exploitation in the business. As per the code of conduct, hotels, tour operators and airlines will have to train their staff to identify and report a possible exploitative activity to authorities. It also forbids tourists from seeking out children for sex via chat rooms and discussion groups. Hotels would also be asked not to ‘help’ tourists get access to children for sex or employ minors in their industry.

Child sex tourism is believed to be prevalent in many states of the country. Studies have shown that in the name of pilgrim, heritage and coastal tourism, sexual exploitation of children is quite widespread in Maharastra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.

Apart from major cities and places for sightseeing, pilgrim centres like Tirupati, Guruvayoor and Puri are growing hubs for sex tourism. Study reports say foreign tourists engage in paedophilia and sex with minors through short-term marriages.

Last month, the Supreme Court had asked the government to come out with foolproof measures to curb ‘sex tourism’ in the country and register cases of rape against those pushing children into prostitution rackets or having sex with them. It directed that sexual assault on children must be registered as rape.