ECPAT-USA Celebrates 25 Years of Protecting Children from Sexual Exploitation

On November 16, 2016, ECPAT-USA will celebrate 25 years of protecting children from sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography and trafficking.


Brooklyn, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/14/2016 -- ECPAT-USA, a children's rights organization based in Brooklyn, NY, is the leader in raising awareness that children in America are sex trafficked, not just children from foreign countries. Thanks to ECPAT-USA's advocacy over many years, this awareness has led to new and important protections for child sex trafficking victims.

UNICEF estimates that 5.5 million children are being trafficked around the world. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime calls human trafficking the fastest growing crime in the world. In the United States thousands of children are bought and sold for sex. In 2014 the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children received 1.1 million reports of sexual offenses against children including child sexual abuse images, online enticement, sex trafficking and child molestation.

ECPAT-USA was started in 1991. That year, Asian activists came to the United States to ask that American men be stopped from going to Asia to exploit children for sex. A group of committed children's rights activists, churches, women's groups and others decided to start a movement to get this done. And ECPAT-USA was born (the original name was End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism).

But ECPAT-USA was not alone. The movement to protect children from exploitation gained momentum around the world. By 1996 the governments of the world had taken notice and the First World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children took place in Sweden that year. ECPAT groups realized that child sexual exploitation does not happen only in Asia, but everywhere. The movement was renamed: ECPAT: End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes.

In the 25 years that ECPAT-USA has been at work, the recognition of child trafficking victims has advanced immeasurably. It is now well recognized that foreign and U.S. citizen children can be victims of trafficking. It is also recognized that these are children who urgently need assistance and protection. As the lead organization working in the United States to protect children from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation, ECPAT-USA is proud of having achieved many "firsts."

- ECPAT-USA was the first organization to advocate for U.S. Defense Department training to protect children from sexual exploitation. We succeeded in getting the first training in place in 1999.

- ECPAT-USA was the first anti-child sex trafficking organization working to raise awareness in the United States before the passage of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000.

- ECPAT-USA published the first research projects about child trafficking in the United States, Prostituted Youth in New York City- An Overview in 2001 and International Trafficking of Children to New York City for Sexual Purposes in 2002.

- ECPAT-USA developed the first local multi-stakeholder anti-trafficking project in New York City in 2003 in partnership with IOFA. We launched the first federally funded human trafficking task force that became the model for these task forces across the country.

- ECPAT-USA was the first to obtain the partnership of the hospitality industry in the United States in adopting the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct, when Carlson Companies signed it in 2004. It is now signed by more than 50 companies and associations.

- ECPAT-USA published the first report about the disparity in services available to foreign and U.S. victims of trafficking and exploited children, WHO IS THERE TO HELP US? How the System Fails Sexually Exploited Girls in the United States. Examples from Four American Cities, in 2005.

- ECPAT-USA continues to lead the field, by creating a manual to help states pass "Safe Harbor" laws; implementing a well-regarded school curriculum for young people to learn about sexual exploitation and how to become activists; and engaging the private sector about how companies outside of the travel industry can take steps to protect children as well.

The ECPAT-USA 25th Anniversary Celebration will be held on November 16th at the Pace Gallery, 32 E. 57th Street, New York, NY from 6PM to 9PM.

Tickets are $150 online:

The Host Committee is co-chaired by Drs. Lata and Thomas McGinn, Mrs. Cindy McCain, and Ms. Sydney Rose. It is proudly presented by American Airlines and Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

This event honors Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Former Chairman and CEO, Carlson, Co-CEO, Carlson Holdings, a global travel and hospitality company. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., with operations in more than 150 countries and territories, more than 100,000 people work under its brands including, Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu®, Radisson®, Radisson Red, Park Plaza®, Park Inn® by Radisson, Country Inns & Suites and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Nelson has appeared on Forbes magazine's list as one of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women." In 2004, when Marilyn Carlson Nelson heard that travel companies could help protect children from exploitation, she didn't ask why, she wanted to know how and immediately got her company involved. It was a no-brainer to her and — they haven't stopped since.

Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Carol Smolenski are both available for interviews.

ECPAT-USA is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in the State of New York. It is part of an international network. Headquartered in Thailand, ECPAT has affiliates in more than 80 countries.