New taskforce to end orphanage tourism
A taskforce to encourage well-meaning UK tourists and volunteers to stop visiting overseas orphanages has been launched.
The Orphanage Tourism Taskforce has been set up by the international charity Hope and Homes for Children and ABTA - The Travel Association, in response to the global issue of a burgeoning orphanage 'industry'.
The task force says misdirected donations, holidaymaker visits and volunteer projects in orphanages can help to fuel a corrupt orphanage business that tears families apart, exploits children for commercial gain and exposes them to abuse. Its members include TUI, Intrepid, Exodus and Projects Abroad.
Announcing the Orphanage Tourism Taskforce, Hope and Homes for Children’s CEO Mark Waddington said: “What many tourists, volunteers and even some travel companies don’t know is that 80 per cent1 of the eight million2 children trapped in overseas orphanages today are not orphans.
“Most are separated from their families because of poverty, disability or discrimination. But increasingly, children are also being targeted to pose as orphans, to meet the demand of travellers from wealthy countries who want visit orphanages while overseas.
“Often these children can be forced to perform or beg for funds from these tourists and volunteers.”
More than 80 years of research shows that orphanages can expose children to higher levels of abuse and neglect3. As many as 37 out every 100 children living in orphanages may suffer violence or sexual abuse4.
The lack of individual love provided by orphanages can also damage children’s emotional, physical and neurological development in ways that can last a lifetime. Every three months spent in an orphanage before the age of three, for instance, can stunt a child’s physical and cognitive development by one month. 5After six months, these children are at risk of never recovering6.
Mark continued: "The tragedy is that many dangerous orphanages are operating as profit-making businesses. Some even employ professional child-finders to go into impoverished communities to persuade vulnerable parents to give up their children with the promise of schooling. This is child trafficking.
“The more children the orphanage has, the more funding they receive, or the more well-meaning visitors they attract from Western countries.
“It’s a lucrative industry, with the money too often ending up in the pockets of orphanage owners, instead of benefiting children and their families.”
Visits can also leave children vulnerable to abuse where child protection regulations are lax.
“It would be unacceptable for a volunteer from overseas, who has no experience and has undergone no background checks, to help out in our local school or nurseries in the UK. And so the same should apply to overseas orphanages.
“Orphanage tourism and volunteering can also contribute to attachment disorders in children who become close to short-term visitors."
As part of this new joint initiative, ABTA is reminding its Members of the importance of moving away from offering donations, volunteer projects and tourist trips to orphanages and the need to educate well-meaning travellers.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s Chief Executive said: “ABTA has been taking an active role in supporting child safeguarding for many years and advising its Members to move away from supporting orphanages. Travel companies have policies not to visit or support orphanages, but there is more to be done because the issue is still concerningly prevalent.
“Working in partnership with Hope and Homes for Children, The Orphanage Tourism Taskforce will increase traveller awareness of orphanage tourism, provide evidence to government to inform advice and engage with tourist boards and local suppliers to transition away from any orphanage visits.
“It is well meaning travellers that are trying to help but by raising awareness of the reality we can safeguard children’s’ futures.”
For more information about the Orphanage Tourism Task Force, follow #EndOrphanageTourism on Twitter, or visit www.hopeandhomes.org.
For more information (including high res images) and to arrange interviews with Hope and Homes for Children or ABTA representatives, please contact:
Wayne Cornish at Hope and Homes for Children on 01722 790111 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Tipton at ABTA on 020 3117 0513 or email: email@example.com
About Hope and Homes for Children
- An estimated 8 million children live in orphanages worldwide.
- Over 80 per cent of children confined to orphanages aren’t actually orphans – most have living parents, but have been abandoned because of poverty, disabilities or discrimination7.
- As many as 37 out of every 100 children living in orphanages may suffer violence or abuse8.
- Orphanages can also be deadly, with mortality rates sometimes as high as 80 per cent9.
- Those who survive can be 10 times more likely to enter prostitution; 40 times more likely to get a criminal record; and 500 times more likely to commit suicide10.
- It can be 10 times more cost effective to support struggling parents with social services than to fund orphanages11.
- Hope and Homes for Children End the silence charity gala helps to fund the closure of orphanages by preventing child abandonment, developing family support services and establishing foster and adoption care networks.
- Hope and Homes for Children works directly in eight countries and supports likeminded partner organisations in another 20.
- We believe it really is possible to achieve the global elimination of orphanages.
- To help transform a child’s life visit www.hopeandhomes.org.
- Registered Charity No. 1089490.
- ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 65 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence.
- The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members.
- We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.
- ABTA has more than 4,300 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined annual UK turnover of £39 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.
1 Csáky, C., Keeping children out of harmful institutions: why we should be investing in family-based care, Save the Children, 2009, p 3.
2 The number of residential institutions and the number of children living in them is unknown. Estimates range from ‘more than 2 million’ (UNICEF, Progress for Children: A Report Card on Child Protection Number 8, 2009) to 8 million (Cited in: Pinheiro, P., World Report on Violence against Children, UNICEF, New York, 2006). These figures are often reported as underestimates, due to lack of data from many countries and the large proportion of unregistered institutions. Unregistered institutions are particularly relevant in the case of orphanages set up as businesses to attract tourists.
3 Berens, A., Nelson, C., The science of early adversity: is there a role for large institutions in the care of vulnerable children?, The Lancet, 2015.
4 The study found that 37.7% of children in residential care institutions report that they have been victims of severe physical punishment or beatings. Nearly one fifth of the respondents claimed to have been blackmailed for sex activities and a further 4.3% claimed that they were constrained to have sex. The reported perpetrators of these acts of sexual abuse were older residents of the same sex (50%) older residents of the opposite sex (12%) and institutional staff (1.3%). UNICEF, 2000 and Save the Children: The Risk of Harm to Young Children in Institutional Care 2009 Kevin Browne.
5 The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (2003). More information available at: http://www.bucharestearlyinterventionproject.org/About-Us.html
6 Kevin Browne (2009), The Risk of Harm to Young Children in Institutional Care,
Better Care Network and Save the Children (2009) p.21. Available at: https://www.crin.org/en/docs/The_Risk_of_Harm.pdf
7 Save the Children (2009), Keeping Children Out of Harmful Institutions.
8 The study found that 37.7% of children in residential care institutions report that they have been victims of severe physical punishment or beatings. Nearly one fifth of the respondents claimed to have been blackmailed for sex activities and a further 4.3% claimed that they were constrained to have sex. The reported perpetrators of these acts of sexual abuse were older residents of the same sex (50%) older residents of the opposite sex (12%) and institutional staff (1.3%). UNICEF, 2000 and Save the Children: The Risk of Harm to Young Children in Institutional Care 2009 Kevin Browne.
9 UNICEF Sudan (2007), Technical Briefing Paper 1: Alternative Family Care, p.1.
10 Pashkina (2001). Sotsial’noe obespechenie, 11:42–45. Cited in Holm Hansen J, Kristofersen LB, Myrvold TM eds.
11 A cost comparison in east and central Africa by Save the Children UK found residential care to be 10 times more expensive than community-based forms of care. Diane M. Swales, Applying the Standards: Improving quality childcare provision in East and Central Africa, Save the Children UK, 2006, pp. 108-110.