The World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, defines sex tourism as "trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination".
While sex tourism can refer to a variety of commercial sexual activities, agencies and academics[who?] sometimes distinguish between adult sex tourism, child sex tourism and female sex tourism to refer to different kinds of sex tourism. Attractions for sex tourists can include reduced costs for services in the destination country, along with either legal prostitution or indifferent law enforcement and access to child prostitution.
Generally, an adult can travel and engage in a sexual activity with an adult prostitute, in similar circumstances as would apply to local prostitution. However, when the sexual activity involves child prostitution, is non-consensual or involves sex trafficking, it is generally illegal, both in the participating country and sometimes in the individual's home country.
Sex tourism includes domestic sex tourism, which is travel within the same country, or international sex tourism, which involves travel across national borders. It is a multibillion dollar industry that supports an international workforce estimated to number in the millions. It has been argued by some people that sex tourism benefits not only the sex industry but also the airline, taxi, restaurant and hotel industries. Human Rights organizations warn that sex tourism contributes to human trafficking and child prostitution.
Female sex tourism
Sex tourism by women also exists. It is estimated that 650,000 Western women have traveled to engage in sex since 1980, many of them multiple times. By some estimates, 80,000 North American and European women visit Jamaica every year for sex.
The main destinations for female sex tourism are Southern Europe (mainly Italy, Turkey, Greece, Croatia , Armenia, Montenegro and Spain), the Caribbean (led by Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic), parts of Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Gambia, Kenya ), Bali, and Pattaya or Phuket in Thailand. Other destinations include Morocco, Fiji, Peru and El Salvador.
Child sex tourism
Child sex tourism is a criminal (most countries) multi-billion-dollar industry believed to involve as many as 2 million children around the world. In an effort to eradicate the practice, many countries have enacted laws to allow prosecution of its citizens for child abuse that occurs outside their home country, even if it is not against the law in the country where the child abuse took place, for example, the US Protect Act.
Some people travel to other countries to engage in sex with children. Child sex tourism has been closely linked to poverty.
Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil and Mexico have been identified as countries where child sexual exploitation is prevalent. In Thailand, though the exact numbers are not known, it has been estimated that children make up 40% of prostitutes in the country. In Cambodia, it has been estimated that about a third of all prostitutes are under 18. In India, the federal police say that around 1.2 million children are believed to be involved in prostitution. Brazil is considered to have the worst child sex trafficking record, after Thailand.
UNICEF notes that sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities reluctant to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitation. These attitudes make children far more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Most exploitation of children takes place as a result of their absorption into the adult sex trade where they are exploited by local people and sex tourists. The Internet provides an efficient global networking tool for individuals to share information on destinations and procurement.
In cases involving children, the U.S. has relatively strict domestic laws that hold accountable any American citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. who travels abroad for the purpose of engaging in illicit conduct with a minor. However, child pornography, sex tourism and human trafficking remain fast-growing industries. Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ recently introduced H.R. 1623, the "International Megan's Law". Similar to the domestic Megan's Law, which provides for community notification when a sex offender is living in the area, H.R. 1623 would alert officials abroad when U.S. sex offenders intend to travel, and likewise encourage other countries to keep sex offender lists and to notify the U.S. when a known sex offender may be coming to the United States for sex tourism.
Several countries have become preferred destinations for sex tourists. These include Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Thailand.
University of Leicester sociologists studied this subject as part of a research project for the Economic and Social Research Council and End Child Prostitution and Trafficking campaign. The study included interviews with over 250 Caribbean sex tourists. Among their findings:
- Preconceptions about race and gender influenced their opinions.
- Economically underdeveloped tourist-receiving countries are promoted as being culturally different so that (in the Western tourist's understanding) prostitution and traditional male domination of women have less stigma than similar practices might have in their home countries.
Opposition to sex tourism
Human Rights organizations warn that sex tourism contributes to human trafficking and child prostitution. The U.N. opposes sex tourism citing health, social and cultural consequences for both tourist home countries and destination countries, especially in situations exploiting gender, age, social and economic inequalities in sex tourism destinations.
Canadian film makers have been active at reporting on sex tourism. Documentary titles include:
- Falang: Behind Bangkok's Smile by Jordon Clark (2005) (this title at the Internet Movie Database), set in Thailand
- CBC series the Lens episode "Selling Sex in Heaven" (2005) (this title at the Internet Movie Database), set in the Philippines.
- Channel 4 Cutting Edge episode "The Child Sex Trade" (2003), set in Romania, Italy
- Sex Tourism on Talking Points from Channel4.com
- Channel 4 My Boyfriend, the Sex Tourist (2007) (this title at the Internet Movie Database), looks at sex tourism around the world
Prostitution law across globe
- Prostitution by country
- Legality of prostitution
- Cuban jiniterismo
- Prostitution in Thailand
- Prostitution in India
- Prostitution in the Philippines
- "WTO Statement On The Prevention Of Organized Sex Tourism". Adopted by the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization at its eleventh session - Cairo (Egypt), 17–22 October 1995 (Resolution A/RES/338 (XI)). Cairo (Egypt): World Tourism Organization. 17–22 October 1995. http://www.world-tourism.org/protect_children/statements/wto_a.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- Kenya Tourism Exploitation, Chapter Two - Tourism, sex tourism and the economy
- Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Deena Guzder, "The Economics of Sexual Exploitation" http://web.archive.org/20100104142004/pulitzercenter.typepad.com/untold_stories/2009/08/the-economics-of-commercial-sexual-exploitation-in-thailand.html#more
- Sex tourism: When women do it, it's called 'romance travelling'
- How sex tourism became the basis of a Royal Court play | Travel | The Observer
- Clarke, Jeremy (2007-11-25). "Older white women join Kenya's sex tourists". Reuters. http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=2007-11-26T001811Z_01_L14342169_RTRIDST_0_LIFESTYLE-KENYA-SEXTOURISM-COL.XML. Retrieved 2007-11-30. "Hard figures are difficult to come by, but local people on the coast estimate that as many as one in five single women visiting from rich countries are in search of sex."
- Kuta Cowboys: The rodeo is in town everyday in Bali
- Women going on sex tours look for big bamboos and Marlboro men, Pravda.Ru
- Janet Bagnall work=Montreal Gazette (2007). "Sex trade blights the lives of 2 million children; Canada is not doing enough to fight the international scourge of sex tourism".
- Chaninat & Leeds. Sex Laws in Thailand US Sex Laws Abroad, the Long Arm of Uncle Sam. Thailand Law Forum, September 2009
- T Trafficking in Minors for Commercial Sexual Exploitation - Thailand
- "Official: More than 1M child prostitutes in India - CNN.com". CNN. 2009-05-11. http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/11/india.prostitution.children/index.html. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Deena Guzder, "Local Thai NGOs Discuss Efforts to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation" http://web.archive.org/20090907022007/pulitzercenter.typepad.com/untold_stories/2009/08/the-politics-of-commercial-sexual-exploitation.html#more
- "Brazil". The Protection Project. Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. http://188.8.131.52/u/protectionproject?q=cache:IvHHQ_TSAPsJ:www.protectionproject.org/brazil.doc+Sex+tourism&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=17&ie=UTF-8. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "Brazil is a major sex tourism destination. Foreigners come from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Latin America, and North America ..."
- Gentile, Carmen J. (2006-02-02). "Brazil cracks down on child prostitution". San Francisco Chronicle (Chronicle Foreign Service). http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/02/05/MNG0TB6KQV1.DTL. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "... young prostitutes strut in front of middle-aged American and European tourists ..."
- Kovaleski, Serge F. (2000-01-02). "Child Sex Trade Rises In Central America". Washington Post Foreign Service (Washington Post Foreign Service). Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/costarica/prostitution.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "... "an accelerated increase in child prostitution" in the country ... blamed largely on the unofficial promotion of sex tourism in Costa Rica over the Internet."
- "Costa Rica". The Protection Project. Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. http://www.google.com/u/protectionproject?q=cache:cCKg9-39DjgJ:www.protectionproject.org/costa.doc+Costa+Rica&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1&ie=UTF-8. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "...has come to rival Thailand and the Philippines as one of the world’s leading destinations for sex tourism."
- "Cuba". The Protection Project. Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. http://184.108.40.206/u/protectionproject?q=cache:x4mrHSe85xEJ:www.protectionproject.org/cuba.doc+Sex+tourism&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=3&ie=UTF-8. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "Cuba is a popular destination country for sex tourists from Canada, the United States, and Europe."
- Zúñiga, Jesús. "Cuba: The Thailand of the Caribbean". The New West Indian. http://www.awigp.com/default.asp?numcat=sextour2. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- "Dominican Republic". The Protection Project. Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. http://www.google.com/u/protectionproject?q=cache:gbcyA8rWx6kJ:www.protectionproject.org/dominican.doc+Sex+tourism&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=63&ie=UTF-8. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular sex tourism destinations in the world, and it is advertised on the Internet as a "single man's paradise.""
- Scheeres, Julia (2001-07-07). "The Web, Where ‘Pimps’ Roam Free". Wired News. CondéNet Inc. http://www.wired.com/news/ebiz/0,1272,44888,00.html. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- Hughes, Dana. "TSun, Safaris and Sex Tourism in Kenya". Travel. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/Story?id=5935427. Retrieved 2008-10-25. "Tourists Gone Wild: 'They Come Here They Think "I Can Be Whatever I Want to Be" and That's How They Behave'"
- Cruey, Greg. "Thailand's Sex Industry". About: Asia For Visitors. About, Inc. (The New York Times Co.). http://goasia.about.com/cs/thailand/a/thailandsex.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "Nowhere else is it so open and prevalent. Individual cities or regions have acquired a reputation as sex tourist destinations. Many of these have notable red-light districts, including de Wallen in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Zona Norte in Tijuana, Mexico, Boy's Town in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket in Thailand,"
- Sex Tourism in the Caribbean by Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, University of Leicester. Chapter for Tourism, Travel and Sex, eds. Stephen Clift and Simon Carter, 1999
- The New West Indian Sex tourists: survey
- U.N. Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) Gender Mainstreaming Mandates
- U.N. Congress On The Prevention Of Crime And The Treatment Of Offenders Press Release New Global Treaty to Combat Sex Slavery of Women and Girls
- The Child Sex Trade Hardcash Productions
- Sex Tourism Talking Points from Channel4.com
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