Bogotá Combats Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in Tourism

Bogotá Combats Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in TourismPhoto: Bogotá District Tourism Institute
The city government and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce launch the pilot project 'Quinta Paredes: A Safe Zone Free from Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Human Trafficking'. Report these crimes to the Emergency Hotline 123.

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Translated by Andrés Martínez Forero

This Wednesday, June 5, 2024, the Bogotá Institute of Tourism (IDT) and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce officially kicked off a campaign against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Bogotá through a pilot initiative in the Quinta Paredes neighborhood of Teusaquillo district.

(You might be interested in: 'Visit Bogotá': Your Mobile Guide to Colombia’s Capital)

This marks a significant step towards fostering responsible and safe tourism in Bogotá, setting a model for replication in other tourist areas of the city. The initiative strengthens the culture of prevention and reporting, ensuring Bogotá remains a tourism destination committed to the safety and well-being of both visitors and residents.

"Bogotá has seen a tourism boom in recent years, becoming an attractive destination for both domestic and international visitors, which brings significant economic and social benefits to the city. However, this growth is threatened by severe issues like Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children," stated Andrés Santamaría, Director of Bogotá Tourism. He emphasized the collaborative efforts between public and private stakeholders to combat this grave issue.

According to data from the National Police of Colombia's Crime Statistics System, between 2020 and 2024, a total of 579 minors in Bogotá were victims of CSEC. The breakdown is as follows: 172 victims in 2020, 162 in 2021, 114 in 2022, 92 in 2023, and 39 so far in 2024. Of these reports, 48% of the cases (280) involved the use or facilitation of communication mediums to offer sexual services involving minors.

Below, a post from the Bogotá Tourism Institute on social media platform X, sharing information about this prevention and reporting strategy for crimes related to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and human trafficking in tourism:

The Director of Bogotá Tourism was clear in stating that Bogotá is committed to responsible tourism. "Those who come to commit this horrendous crime are not welcome in our country. This is why we are working with tourism sector to collectively send a strong message: visitors and tourists who intend to commit crimes are not welcome, and such behaviors are condemned in Colombia."

Ovidio Claros Polanco, President of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the collective commitment necessary to combat these crimes. "We must all unite and commit to actions that allow us to fight against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and human trafficking. Today, we launch this preventive pilot project which will be extended throughout the city, setting benchmarks to track progress and evaluate our achievements within six months."

Bogotá Combats Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking
Commercial sectors, dedicated to tourism and the hotel sector signed this pact and committed to reporting and preventing these crimes.

The pilot covers the area from Corferias and Ágora to the Gran Estación mall and along 26th Street, impacting neighborhoods in Teusaquillo and Puente Aranda districts. The goal is to establish Quinta Paredes and its surrounding areas as a safe, exploitation-free zone in the context of tourism, through the development and validation of a methodology focused on prevention, detection, and reporting.

According to the 2024-2028 City Development Plan "Bogotá Camina Segura," this project will also be implemented in four other key tourism areas of the city: Zona T and Parque de la 93, La Candelaria, Ciudad Bolívar, and Usaquén.

The venue hosted a discussion with representatives from organizations skilled in combating the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), including the International Organization for Migration, Save the Children, Dignidad Abolicionista Foundation, and the National Police of Colombia.

"From the IOM, we call on academia, the private sector, government institutions, and communities to spread information and awareness about these crimes, particularly among the most vulnerable populations. It's essential that everyone knows about these crimes and their devastating effects on individuals’ lives and dignity," said Denisse Velázquez, Deputy Chief of Mission at IOM Colombia.

The event, held at the Ágora Convention Center with support from ‘Plataforma’, saw the participation of various stakeholders from the sector's value chain, including IOM, the National Police, the XIII Brigade of the National Army, Migración Colombia, the Secretariat of Security, the local mayor's office of Teusaquillo, Cotelco Bogotá, Corferías, Inhotelcol, and the Renacer Foundation, among others.

(Don't leave without Reading: Bogotá Ranks Among Top Three Cities for Business Tourism in Latin America)

Planned Actions

  • Enhance signage and information available to tourists on how to report suspected cases of child sexual exploitation.
  • Train staff at hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies to identify and report cases of child sexual exploitation.
  • Launch awareness campaigns aimed at tourists, the local population, and the tourism sector.
  • Improve coordination among various entities responsible for protecting children and adolescents. Discover the report on preventing the sexual exploitation of children in Bogotá. Download it and spread the word!