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Protecting Children’s Rights in Asian Tourism

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Reflecting on Progress and the Way Forward

International attention was first drawn to horrifying accounts of children being sexually exploited by foreign tourists in South East Asia in the early 1990s. This article reviews progress over the last two decades to combat this crime. With tourism reaching record levels and the relative vulnerability of children in South East Asia, I contend it is an opportune time to re-examine the response. Moving forwards, prevention initiatives must better address underlying vulnerabilities and acknowledge the indivisibility and interrelationship of children’s rights granted under international human rights law. This means broadening the response to address other disturbing violations of children’s rights in the tourism context, such as child labour and ‘orphanage tourism’. Those with the potential positively to influence the tourism environment must also be engaged in ‘child safe tourism’ as part of the wider commitment to responsible tourism and the protection of human rights.

Affiliations: 1: Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia,


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