ECPAT (End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism) is a movement which emerged in the 1990s as a campaign focused on exposing and fighting against the alarming levels to which sexual exploitation takes place in tourism in the South East Asian region. Launched by members of NGOs, lawyers and university professors, ECPAT grew from a regional campaign to a global one, extending its impact to the different continents of the world. Eventually, ECPAT’s mandate extended to combating the “commercial sexual exploitation of children”. In 1996, ECPAT co-organised the First World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden.
At the end of the Congress, ECPAT choose to establish itself as a global non-governmental organization (NGO). In order to take into account the evolution of its mandate, the meaning of its acronym became “End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes”.
ECPAT is the only organization internationally recognized to be exclusively dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
In 2011, ECPAT and The Body Shop launched the “Stop Trafficking of Children and Young People” campaign, aimed at safeguarding the rights of children and teenagers and protect them from the sex industry. During the three-year campaign, more than 7 million signatures were collected worldwide. This is the most important petition regarding a specific human right issues that has ever been submitted to the United Nations.
In 2013, it was announced that ECPAT International has been selected to receive the 2013 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million (US dollars) as a reward for doing extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering. It is considered to be the highest reward worldwide for humanitarian action.
Today The ECPAT International network consists of a Secretariat and 95 member organizations in 86 countries. ECPAT is an NGO and a global network of civil society organizations exclusively dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children.