IOM Works with Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Combat Child Trafficking
Mexico - IOM Mexico has established an editorial committee to review an Assessment Study on Trafficking in Children for Sexual and Labor Exploitation in the municipality of Puerto Vallarta, a popular tourist destination on Mexico’s west coast.
The project is a joint initiative backed by IOM and the System for the Whole Development of the Family (DIF, by its Spanish acronym) of Puerto Vallarta.
The committee will ensure that the assessment, which is currently in process, takes into account efforts made by other institutions and researchers specializing in human trafficking in Mexico.
The Puerto Vallarta project aims to improve both quantitative and qualitative data and information available to formulate strategies and action programmes for combating human trafficking at the local level. It focuses on identifying the profiles of victims and traffickers, and on collecting and systematically compiling all available data.
Puerto Vallarta has grown fast. In 1950 it had less than 1,000 inhabitants. By 2010 it had a population of over 255,000, expected to grow to 360,000 by 2030. Tourism has contributed to the town’s rapid economic growth. According to the National Institute of Geography and Statistics of Mexico (INEGI, by its Spanish acronym), some 1.2 million tourists visited Puerto Vallarta in 2010.
The 2013 Report of the US State Department on Human Trafficking identified victims of sex tourism in the popular Mexican destinations of Acapulco, Cancún and Puerto Vallarta. Several institutions, such as DIF Puerto Vallarta, have since redoubled their efforts to combat sexual exploitation of children.
On September 19th, the Ministry of Tourism of the state of Jalisco, in which Puerto Vallarta is located, signed a National Conduct Code for the Protection of Children in the Travel and Tourism Sector, which identifies hotels and accommodation establishments as free from human trafficking.
IOM Mexico’s Chief of Mission, Christopher Gascon, praised the efforts of DIF Puerto Vallarta in promoting the assessment study, while recognizing that there is still a lack of information about child trafficking in Puerto Vallarta.
“We need this information in order to implement strategies specific to the municipality’s needs. This is why we are working with our main partners and leading experts in the field through this committee,” he said.
The committee includes senior researchers from the Social Development Department of the University of Guadalajara; the Clinic to Combat Human Trafficking of the Autonomous Institute of Technology of Mexico (ITAM, by its Spanish acronym); UNODC; and Puerto Vallarta DIF’s Inter-Agency Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. These experts will complete a critical review of the assessment’s methodology and the final report.
IOM has already undertaken the first stage of field research. The second stage will be undertaken in November, with the final draft of the assessment scheduled for completion in December.
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