Vatican promotes tourism that 'opens doors' for women, but doesn't exploit them

VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2007 (VIS) - Marking World Tourism Day and its theme: "Tourism opens doors for women" Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. called for more effort to end sex tourism and the exploitation of women and the creation of more opportunity for leadership roles for women in the global tourism industry. In a letter made public today by the Vatican to Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) was made public by the Vatican the cardinal highlights the fact that, according to the most recent WTO statistics, around 46 percent of the people employed in the international tourist industry are women.

"Despite this large and effective female presence, in many cases women are prevented from reaching positions of administrative responsibility and management in tourism," he writes. "The reasons for this negative phenomenon are to be found in deep-rooted prejudices which lead to the persistence of stereotyping and of the traditional attribution of secondary roles on the basis of gender." This is particularly evident, the cardinal continues, "in those parts of the world where the moral, cultural and civil status of women puts them in a position of weakness and injustice."

Bertone writes that all tourists, whatever their religion, social class or nationality, must commit themselves "to the protection and promotion of women." In this context he underlines the need "to work for an effective equality of rights for women, guaranteeing them equal treatment in the workplace, religious freedom, respect for the needs associated with motherhood, and the payment of a fair and remunerative salary."

Bertone adds: "Concrete support must be given to the right of girls and women to study and achieve professional qualifications, using appropriate positive laws to combat all forms of unjust exploitation of the female sex and the shameful commercialization of the female body. It is incumbent upon us to decry the intolerable scandal of a certain kind of sexual tourism which humiliates women, reducing them to a situation of practical slavery."

The cardinal quotes the Message for World Peace Day 2007 in which Benedict XVI "denounced the 'inadequate consideration' shown for thecondition of women and 'the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms.' Only by overcoming these forms of discrimination," Cardinal Bertone concludes, "will it be possible for tourism to combine a concern for the tourists' experience with a guarantee for the quality of life of residents."

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