“On this trip, I’ve had sex with a 14 year-old girl in Mexico and a 15 year-old in Colombia. I’m helping them financially. If they don’t have sex with me, they may not have enough food. If someone has a problem with me doing this, let UNICEF feed them.”
-Retired U.S School Teacher
When you hear the word “tourism” what do you think about? Maybe white sandy beaches, turquoise water, relaxation, the smell of coconut tanning oil or maybe a nice warm breeze on your face. You probably wouldn’t think of think of the words “victimization” and “slavery”. Tourism takes on a whole new meaning when you realize such a thing as “Sex Tourism” exists. Sex tourism involves ‘vacations’ that people take, people you might not expect. It is a booming industry bringing in billions of dollars a year, and it’s growing.
Some main countries where sex tourism is found include Thailand, India, Asian countries, and the Phillipines. More recently the sex tourism wave has reached Mexico and Central America as well. Most of the places that this injustice takes place in are poor countries that have few laws to protect the victims of this cruel act. Men travel all over the world to buy sex from pimps and brothel owners who are selling children aging from under 10 to 18 years old. Some can be as young as 5 years old1. These girls (and boys) are usually priced as to age and virginity. Young is usually pricier and also, virgins command a higher price because they are more highly desired.
The living conditions for these children is something that is almost too hard to look at. A child could serve up to 30 clients every week, which is almost 1500 a year2. Children are kept in small spaces usually very crowded with little or no room to even be a kid. They are kept like animals in a zoo, for viewing and exploitation. These children constantly live by fear of the people that are keeping them hostage. They are frequently threatened with the possibilities of being beaten or even killed. If they attempt to run away, they are threatened with the same punishments.
You might be wondering what the reasons are for this sickness to be occurring in our world. Here’s a couple of reasons.
Poverty is something that forces a lot of women and children into prostitution. Impoverished families in third world countries are approached by traffickers and pimps who will offer to buy children if the family has too many to take care of, and often the families are so desperate for food they will sacrifice one child to feed the rest of the family. Parents are told that money will be sent to them for the work that the children are doing but it never happens. In our own country, people can get caught up in the trade because of extreme poverty in their lives and not seeing any other way out.
The internet has opened a whole new door for advertising prostitution and sex tourism all across the world in a completely untraceable way. There are websites where Johns can write about their experiences with children, and recommend different places for others to travel to. Imagine that?! Most people like you and I would leave a comment about the hotel service, food and beaches. You can even “book” Sex Tours on-line, where ‘tourists’ are driven to different brothels to participate in sexual abuse of minors. In 1995 it is said that there were over 25 companies in the United States that arranged “Sex Tours” for people.
Part of the attraction is that the Johns are usually in another country across the world where they can do this completely anonymously and not get caught. They are in a place where they know no one so they are entirely uninhibited when it comes to their need to satisfy their perverse desires and engage in sexual relations with a minor.
A question I frequently ask myself is “who would actually do this to a young child?” The answer is simple, yet heartbreaking. Most of the men that participate in sex tourism are men from North America and Western Europe, and it could be anyone. There are men that do actually seek out sexual relations with children, and there are also men who just take the opportunity when it is offered to them. The men that use these services often try to justify their actions by saying “I was just trying to help them out, I was helping them get money to buy food..” (then why not just buy them food?). These guys are just attempting to rationalize and justify their behaviour to abstain from the guilt that they have within themselves for the abuse and exploitation they have caused to these children.
What is our response? The US Department of Justice states that:
“The response of destination countries to the epidemic of child sex tourism has been ineffective. Although many of these countries have passed legislation that criminalizes sexual exploitation of children, these laws often remain unenforced against tourists. Efforts to combat child sexual exploitation often run into conflict with foreign governments’ efforts to promote the international tourism industry. Police corruption is common. In Thailand and the Philippines, police have been known to guard brothels and even procure children for prostitution. Some police in destination countries directly exploit children themselves. Thus far, the international community has not been able to rely on destination countries to adequately protect the rights and well-being of child victims.”
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Pray for the little ones caught up in this industry that they would be set free.
Pray for enforcement by governments and police to shut down brothel owners and ‘tourist guides’
Pray for the men who are being the ‘tourist’ that they would realize the harm they are doing and seek help to be free from their addiction.
We need to get the word out, and we need to come down on this injustice and make sure that this stops happening. With the 2010 Winter Olympics coming to Vancouver, there will be a very high demand for prostitutes and young children. We need to make sure that the general public is educated about the reality and the horrors of sex tourism and the trafficking of women and children around the world.
Sex with kids is not a vacation.
- So, people are selling children in poor countries (supply), and rich people come and pay for them (demand). If we want to stop child sex tourism, what should we focus on first, the supply or the demand? Should we target the traffickers, pimps or the tourists?
- In Canada the law says it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, if you abuse someone under 18 then you’re guilty. But in some countries the age of consent is lower (eg. In China the age of consent is 14). Does this make it ok?
Share your comments and thoughts below!
Stop Child Sex Tourism
ECPAT International – End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking International
World Vision Canada
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Children as Tourist Attractions (Youth Advocate Program International Resource Paper)
Air France in-flight video
:: by Carlye Morris
War College Conquerors Session
1Youth Advocate Program International Resource Paper – http://www.yapi.org/rpchildsextourism.pdf
2US Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section – http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/sextour.html