It may be difficult for many to realize that children are actually becoming a tourist attraction. There are clearly many places in this world where people are living in poverty and these people are willing to do almost anything for income. Children are looking to do whatever it takes as well. As we know, tourism exists everywhere and some of the tourists flying into some countries are willing to pay money to have sex with a child. This is “child sex tourism” or the sexual abuse of a minor in exchange for cash or compensation which can be given either directly to the child or to a third party. Obviously not all children are doing this at their own will but because they are being forced or controlled into the sex market. “Globally approximately 10 million children are subjected to various forms of sexual exploitation in the commercial sex industry” (donttradelives.com.au). Currently the known hotspots for child sex tourism are Cambodia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Eastern Europe, India, Kenya and more.
Who is involved?
There are many different kinds of people that are becoming involved with child sex tourism and for their own reasons. Although clearly, not all tourists are involved with child sex tourism. The idea of tourism and travel gives the people committing these acts a sense of safety. The fact that they are not doing this in their country of residence allows them to believe that the chances of being caught are much lower. Many of the tourists involved with child exploitation may be “domestic travelers” or people who reside near the children that they are engaging sexually with. Others may be “international tourists” which may or may not already know that they will be taking part in these types of actions. There are actually people that do research on what countries have the most vulnerable children and they choose a place of preference to go do this. Some of the tourists are not aware of this at all though and they only happen to become involved with child exploitation because the opportunity simply was presented to them.
What Are The Reasons for This Happening?
Although many people do believe that the biggest cause of child sex tourism is poverty, that is not exactly the case. Currently was is known in being the major factor is the demand for people wanting to have sex with minors. Keep in mind that most of these children are usually under the age of 12. However, there are places where the range in age group of these children changes. “In the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia, approximately 30 percent of sex workers are between 12-17 years old” (worldvision.com.au) As most people would think that anyone who wants to have sex with a child is a paedophile that is not always true. There are people who would simply prefer to have sex with a child to avoid something like HIV. All of this is only becoming easier because “more than two million children enter into the commercial sex industry annually” (worldvision.com.au) meaning that the sex market is only expanding.
What are the consequences?
Sexual abuse of a child is always a serious matter in the United States. Penalties always come with it. “Since the enactment of the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003, prosecutors are no longer required to prove that the offender traveled to a foreign country with the intent of having sex with a minor.” Now the prosecutors only need to prove that they did in fact, engage in sexual acts with a minor in order to be arrested. (justive.gov) One man arrested for engaging in child exploitation is Stefan Irving. Stefan was a pediatrician, which makes this all even scarier, to think that someone who chooses a profession that involves helping children actually enjoys hurting them. His case happened in 2006. This man was arrested for abusing Mexican boys from ages eight to twelve. He did this in a hotel in Acapulco, Mexico. This hotel is Castillo Vista Del Mar. This hotel was being used to exploit children. The faculty and guests of the hotel would lure children from the street in and offer them money, clothes, shelter, or food in exchange for sex. There were eight other men arrested with Irving and it was even discovered that Irving had images and recordings of the sexual encounters.
How Traumatic is it Really?
Overall, there is obviously a bigger picture. Do any of the people committing these acts ever think about what effects these actions can bring to a child in the long run? Not only do these children face physical trauma, but mental and emotional as well. Children that have been exploited have experience sexual and physical abuse because “children who fail to earn enough income generally are subject to severe punishment such as beatings and starvation” (justice.gov). All of this only exposes children to things like HIV, pregnancy, and poor health. Considering many of these children do live in poverty, what happens when they do not have the money for medical treatments? Psychological trauma comes along in these children’s adulthood as well. Meaning that building normal relationships with others and being social is difficult. In turn, alcoholic tendencies or drug addictions can be developed. Eventually, the majority of these children have suicidal thoughts or they or they feel worthless in their lifetime. (http://www.asca.org.au/about/resources/impact-of-child-abuse.aspx)
How Do We Stop It?
There may not be too many ways to stop child sex tourism but it’s all worth a try. Stopping it from expanding would be a start. In order for these issues to be stopped, people must be first learn that these problems exist. Spreading the word and allowing people to learn about child exploitation can help so that tourists know that this is a serious matter. You can also join a campaign that works toward ending child sex tourism. World Vision’s Don’t Trade Lives Campaign is one that is working on stopping human trafficking and child exploitation. Although most of their work is in Australia, you can do things like buy products from them that are “not produced using forced, child and trafficked labour.” (worldvision.com.au)