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Opinion: Stop human trafficking before World Cup

South Africa tourism industry and international travelers can help stop the exploitation.

So far, more than 300 groups have signed the letter, including The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, an association of faith-based institutional investors, as well as non-faith based investors and members of religious communities from across North America, Europe, and Africa, including the Counter Trafficking in Persons Desk of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference and Leaders of Consecrated Religious Life (SA), South African Council of Churches, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, and Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa. The signers represent a variety of organizations around the world that are dedicated to ending human trafficking by raising awareness within the lodging industry.

In addition, we encourage all hotels to sign The Code, an industry-wide tool for facilitating the protection of children’s rights by the travel and tourism sector. Many major hotel chains are now working to create an ethical policy against commercial sexual exploitation of children, to train their staff in identifying human trafficking and publicly reporting their progress in curbing these crimes. The Code is recognized among tourism industry associations, governments and child’s rights organizations as an important standard to putting an end to human trafficking throughout the world.

Human trafficking is a human rights issue that corporations can combat with an approach that has proven successful in the past. By developing appropriate policies, training employees, implementing an action plan, monitoring performance and reporting findings, the travel and tourism industry can help prevent these crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice.

Just as human trafficking is present in nearly every country in the world, every corporation and person can take small steps to help end it. For travelers headed to the World Cup, we encourage you to research where you are staying and persuade hotel owners and managers to share their policies and practices, as well as general findings, in regard to this issue.

CBIS has developed a letter for travelers to deliver at the front desk of their hotels, which speaks to these issues. The letter is available at the CBIS SRI Action web site. A similar letter for all travelers is also available at the site.

It is our sincere hope that through these actions, the travel and tourism sector will be made aware of the important role they play in ending human trafficking and that individuals will feel empowered to work to end this practice. Together, we can work to protect people around the world and end human trafficking, not just during the World Cup, but permanently.

Julie Tanner is the Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing for Christian Brothers Investment Services, a leader in Catholic socially responsible investing worldwide. For more information, visit