BOSTON, MA – The global commercial sex trade exploits more than two million children each, some of them as young as five years old. Child sex tourism, the practice of foreigners sexually exploiting children in another country, is an organized multi-million dollar industry with its own infrastructure of tour guides, websites, and brothel maps. Problem countries include Cambodia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and India. At least 32 countries, including the U.S., have extraterritorial laws that allow the prosecution of their citizens for child sex crimes committed abroad.
In partnership with GES Investment Services of Sweden, Boston Common has led an intensive dialogue over the past year with Marriott International to adopt polices and procedures to address the sexual exploitation of children in the hotel industry. Over the course of the last nine months, Boston Common has met three times with members of Marriott’s Human Rights Task Force, comprised of senior officials from the firm’s human resources, compliance, public affairs, and international lodging operations. Marriott formed the task force specifically to address this issue.
We are delighted to annouce that on November 2nd, Marriott’s Board of Directors approved a change in the company’s Human Rights policy to specifically include a section on the Protection of Children. Attached is a copy of the updated human rights policy and a summary report on Marriott’s work on this issue. Marriott has also posted the attached document to its website. Marriott already has begun raising employee awareness through training on this new policy at all levels of the organization, from the most senior level down to the front line personnel. Marriott is also taking a leadership role in the International Business Leaders Forum, which is working on an industry-wide initiative to prevent child sex tourism. Starting in December, Marriott will include the ”Responsible Tourist and Traveller” brochure developed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in each of its 20 million annual pre-arrival email messages to registered guests. This brochure includes a message warning that child sex tourism is a crime. Additionally, Marriott has encouraged all its hotel sites to look for specific partnerships to address this issue within their communities.
“We believe that Marriott has demonstrated a sincere commitment to addressing this issue from both a risk management and corporate philanthropy perspective,” said Lauren Compere, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at Boston Common Asset Management. “We will continue to push Marriott to expand its efforts in this area and will monitor its implementation of the policy. We feel that Marriott has made a huge first step in adopting appropriate policies and procedures to address the exploitation of children within its sphere of influence.”
For more information about Marriott’s efforts or other initiatives Boston Common is pursuing on this issue, please contact Lauren Compere at lcompere(at)bostoncommonasset.com.