international sex tourism has been a worldwide curse for a long time, the last few decades witnessed great surge in its practice as the effects of globalization, poverty and consumerism spread while advancement in internet caused an increase in travel opportunities. The racist fantasies and unusual interest in sexual activities in the developing countries along with poor law enforcement have made way for sex tourism. Though some may have exaggerated the magnitude of this immoral industry, more than one million children are trapped inside this trade every year (Vrancken and Chetty, 2009).
The 1904 Paris Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (1904 Agreement), the first of its kind, aimed at protecting female children and others who were forced to go abroad for sex trade. It operated through border watching, supervising agencies and repatriating or employing the girls (Vrancken and Chetty, 2009). Then other national and international laws came.
This research paper aims at finding the impact and scope of child sex tourism on both the economy, travelers as well as the children. It also aims to look at the existing government efforts in addressing the problem. Finally there will be policy recommendations on how to reduce the incidences.
Part 1: The scope of child sex tourism
We now have ethical questions associated with human rights, inequitable labor practices, capital and workforce movement in a trans-boundary way and globalization when we relate these to tourism sustainability events. Nowadays media and governments are asking for fast information from the tourism industry so that socially responsible responses can efficiently manage the outcomes of workforce migration and dissolution of borders. Human trafficking and child sex tourism (CST) are the two problematic trends have put the need for innovative response mechanisms (Tepelus, 2007).
CST cannot be separated from the worldwide sex industry and the United Nations Special Report defines it as tourism prearranged in a commercial way with an aim to have a commercial sexual relationship with a child. These tourists may go to any corner of the world to engage in the immoral act with children. Of course the number of tourists going to developed countries can be smaller as the laws are stricter and children are more protected there. So the tourists may prefer countries where there is poverty. They also look for anonymity and seclusion (as cited in Hall, 2011).
It is difficult to state the actual number of children engaged in this industry worldwide but most analysts think of a figure that is between one and two million. According to the U.S. Department of State, every year one million children enter the world of prostitution. According to the United Nations and the international nongovernmental organization (NGO) World Vision, there are two million children in the sex industry. The number of children in prostitution in countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, India, and Cambodia is truly disturbing (as cited in Hall, 2011).
According to Siddhartha Kara of Washington-centered NGO Free the Slaves, in 2007 the global slavery industry made $152.3 billion in revenues. The share of contribution from trafficked sex worker was 39.1%. According to the United Nations, sex trafficking results in a business worth five to seven billion U.S. dollars yearly. The U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has found that that nearly thirty percent of trafficked females happen to be minors. According to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crimes, 79% of all human trafficking is aimed at sexual exploitation. Moreover, the percentage of minors among the trafficked humans rose from 15% to 22% during 2003 and 2007 (as cited in Hall, 2011).
Critics think that people campaigning against sex tourism in Thailand ignore the fact that there is a local demand. They think that many child prostitutes are rather found in backstreets, not in bars where tourist visit. This is an under-researched area when we think of sex industry in Thailand. Children in the local setting may be more in danger than those in Western setting. Children with Western clients are sure to get more money. However, the most talked about issue has been Western men's sex adventures in Thailand. This is where government and NGS are working. Though there has been no strong research conducted on children with foreign and local clients, sex with foreigners has been the most controversial issue (as cited in Montgomery, 2008).
It has to be noted that there is a large amount of sensationalism, speculation and supposition about foreigners having sex with children. We do not find many documented evidences though some occasional, often extreme, cases of foreigners caught or prosecuted in this act have caused much hue and cry in the media. We need to conduct research to assess the nature or extent of the predicament. We do not find good guesswork let alone sure statistics about children selling sex to foreigners. We do not clearly know who the clients are. Also we cannot say if they have been put off by the new legislation. The usual belief is that men are looking for children or younger female to have sex without having STD or AIDS. Some say that Asians also think that having sex with a virgin can cure AIDS or STDs and that Chinese and Taiwanese tourists mainly look for children (as cited in Montgomery, 2008).
These are not false claims but none of these are based on well documented research facts. Small scale studies cannot verify all these claims. Though NGOs now accept that there are one million child prostitutes in Asia, this is not based on documented facts. The ECPAT brochure states that 'tourists create a demand for more than one million "fresh" child prostitutes every year' and it creates a confusion about the real figure. Moreover, there is no ethnographic evidence about the price of virginity and nature of virginity associated with the Chinese men seeking children to get cured of AIDS and STDs. The same is true with black South African men as well as men seeking child sex in Victorian London. It may happen that the issue of virginity can be a part of campaigners' mythologies as well as of the mindset of child-sex tourists. Child prostitution involves the horrible experience of losing virginity while a child also loses trust in humanity. It is really an act of indignation but whether the clients feel it or not is a question we cannot answer easily. We may deduce that fear of infection is a major cause in creating a demand for child sex. Some clients said in interviews that they put emphasis on their cleanliness and vitality of the prostitutes. So it can be said that clients find younger females safer than older ones but we do not have well documented evidence about it (as cited in Montgomery, 2008).
Part 2: Governments efforts around the world
CST cannot be contained unless extraterritorial legislative framework can put concerted efforts as it is a worldwide phenomenon. It is necessary to punish any perpetrators even when they perform the act abroad. Judicial cooperation among countries can lessen the vacuum (George and Panko, 2011).
Geneva Declaration on the Child's Rights by the League of Nations in 1924, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as well as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) by the UN have been some of the past initiatives. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (1989) was a unique effort to remove CSTs. In 1999, the International Labor Organization Convention 182 (1999) came as a great help as well. When the UN World Tourism Organization, in collaboration with End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism as well as the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (2004) brought anti-CST code of conduct and started a joint campaign to convince the North American tour operators, success came (as cited in George and Panko, 2011).
In 2002, the UN General Assembly adopted the Optional modus operandi to the UNCRC on the purchase and Sale of Children, Prostitution of Children, and Child Pornography and encouraged countries to protect the interests and rights of victims of child labor, prostitution, trafficking, as well as child pornography. In 1990, the post of a UN Special report on the purchase and sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography had been created under the UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution No. 1990/68. The responsibilities are to investigate the abuse of children as well as to send recommendations to governments on how to eradicate these practices.
In 2003 in the United States, the PROTECT Act made child sex illegal for its citizens in foreign territory. This Act is a sure improvement upon 18 U.S.C. Section 2423(b) that was passed by the American Congress in 1994. The FBI became more proactive with the help of the PROTECT Act to identify potential exploiters. On the other hand, some critics find limitations in this Act. Some foreign counties may willingly suppress the criminal evidence (Patterson, 2007) and profiling is not a confident option. Demographic or psychographic profiling may…