Sex tourism

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Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual activity, particularly with prostitutes. 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".[1]

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 the circumstances of 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.[2] Sex tourism benefits not only the sex industry but also the airline, taxi, restaurant and hotel industries.[3] Human rights organizations warn that sex tourism contributes to human trafficking and child prostitution.[4]


Several countries have become preferred destinations for sex tourists. These include Brazil,[5][6] Costa Rica,[7][8] Cuba,[9][10] the Dominican Republic,[11][12] Kenya,[13] the Netherlands, the Philippines, Colombia, and Thailand.[14]

Female sex tourism

Sex tourism by women exists. The main destinations for female sex tourism are Brazil, Southern Europe (mainly Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro and Spain), the Caribbean (led by Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic), parts of Africa (Tunisia, Gambia, Kenya[15]), Indonesia[16] Other destinations include Morocco, El Salvador, México, Ecuador, Peru and Fiji. [17]

Child sex tourism

Child sex tourism is tourism to engage in sex with a child prostitute. It is a criminal (in most countries) multi-billion-dollar industry believed to involve as many as 2 million children around the world.[18] In an effort to eradicate the practice, many countries have enacted laws to allow prosecution of their 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 USA Protect Act.[19]

Some people travel to other countries to engage in sex with children. Child sex tourism has been closely linked to poverty[how?].

Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have been identified as countries where child sexual exploitation is prevalent.[20] In Thailand, though the exact numbers are not known, it has been estimated that children make up 40% of prostitutes in the country.[21] In Cambodia, it has been estimated that about a third of all prostitutes are under 18.[22][23] In India, the federal police say that around 1.2 million children are believed to be involved in prostitution.[24] Brazil is considered to have the worst child sex trafficking record, after Thailand.[25]

The UNICEF notes that sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities reluctant to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitation.[26] 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.[26] The Internet provides an efficient global networking tool for individuals to share information on destinations and procurement.[26]

In cases involving children, the USA have 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.[26] However, child pornography, sex tourism and human trafficking remain fast-growing industries.[26] 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.[26]

Academic study

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.[27][28] Amongst their findings were:

Opposition to sex tourism

Human rights organisations warn that sex tourism contributes to human trafficking and child prostitution.[4] The U.N. oppose 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.[1][29][30]


Film makers have been active at reporting on sex tourism. Documentary titles include:

Prostitution law the across globe

  Prostitution legal and regulated
  Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal, but organized activities such as brothels and pimping are illegal; prostitution is not regulated
  Prostitution illegal
  No data

Prostitution is also legal and regulated in New Zealand (map not shown).

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b "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. Retrieved 20 December 2006.[dead link]
  2. ^ Hannum, Ann Barger (2002). "Sex Tourism in Latin America". ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard University) (Winter). Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  3. ^ "La explotación sexual de menores en Kenia alcanza una dimensión horrible [The sexual exploitation of children in Kenya reaches a horrible dimension]" (in French) (PDF). Spain: Unicef España. 17 January 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  4. ^ a b Guzder, Deena (25 August 2009). "The Economics of Commercial Sexual Exploitation". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Brazil". The Protection Project. Archived from the original on 20 December 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2006. "Brazil is a major sex tourism destination. Foreigners come from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Latin America, and North America ..."
  6. ^ Gentile, Carmen J. (2 February 2006). "Brazil cracks down on child prostitution". San Francisco Chronicle (Chronicle foreign service). Retrieved 20 December 2006. "... young prostitutes strut in front of middle-aged American and European tourists ..."
  7. ^ Kovaleski, Serge F. (2 January 2000). "Child Sex Trade Rises In Central America". Washington Post foreign service (Washington Post foreign service). Archived from the original on 20 December 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2006. "... "an accelerated increase in child prostitution" in the country ... blamed largely on the unofficial promotion of sex tourism in Costa Rica over the Internet."
  8. ^ "Costa Rica" (PDF). The Protection Project. Retrieved 20 December 2006.
  9. ^ "Cuba". The Protection Project. Archived from the original on 20 December 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2006. "Cuba is a popular destination country for sex tourists from Canada, the United States, and Europe."
  10. ^ Zúñiga, Jesús. "Cuba: The Thailand of the Caribbean". The New West Indian. Retrieved 20 December 2006.
  11. ^ "Dominican Republic". The Protection Project. Archived from the original on 20 December 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2006. "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.""
  12. ^ Scheeres, Julia (7 July 2001). "The Web, Where ‘Pimps’ Roam Free". Wired News. CondéNet.,1272,44888,00.html. Retrieved 20 December 2006.
  13. ^ Hughes, Dana. "Sun, Safaris and Sex Tourism in Kenya". Travel. ABC News. Retrieved 25 October 2008. "Tourists Gone Wild: 'They Come Here They Think "I Can Be Whatever I Want to Be" and That's How They Behave'"
  14. ^ Cruey, Greg. "Thailand's Sex Industry". About: Asia For Visitors. About (the New York Times Co.). Retrieved 20 December 2006. "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,"
  15. ^ Clarke, Jeremy (25 November 2007). "Older white women join Kenya's sex tourists". Reuters. Retrieved 30 November 2007. "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."
  16. ^ Nick (6 September 2005). "Kuta Cowboys: The rodeo is in town everyday [sic] in Bali". BootsnAll Travel Network. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Women going on sex tours look for big bamboos and Marlboro men". Translated by Maria Gousseva. Pravda.Ru. 29 June 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  18. ^ Janet Bagnall (2007). "Sex trade blights the lives of 2 million children; Canada is not doing enough to fight the international scourge of sex tourism". Montreal Gazette.
  19. ^ Chaninat & Leeds (3 September 2009). "US Sex Laws Abroad: The Long Arm of Uncle Sam". Sex Laws in Thailand, Part 1. Thailand Law Forum. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  20. ^ Godoy, Emilio (13 August 2007). "16,000 Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation". RIGHTS-MEXICO. Inter Press Servic. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  21. ^ Burke, Alicia; Ducci, Stefania (2005), "Trafficking in Minors for Commercial Sexual Exploitation - Thailand", Action Programme Against Trafficking In Minors For Sexual Purposes, Torino, Italy: United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, p. 18, "Thailand’s Health System Research Institute reports that children in prostitution make up 40 percent of sex workers in Thailand."
  22. ^ Swallow, Mark A. (14 February 2008). "Good News, Bad News". The Swallow's Nest. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Facts about child prostitution in Cambodia…". Archived from the original on 9 February 2005. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  24. ^ "Official: More than 1M child prostitutes in India - CNN". CNN. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  25. ^ "The Crisis of Child Sexual Exploitation in Brazil: Between 250,000 and 2 million children forced into prostitution in Brazil". Libertad Latina. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Guzder, Deena (30 August 2009). "Local Thai NGOs discuss efforts to end commercial sexual exploitation". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  27. ^ Taylor, Jacqueline Sánchez (May 2000). "Chapter 3: Tourism and 'embodied' commodities: sex tourism in the Caribbean". In Clift, Stephen; Carter, Simon. Tourism and Sex: Culture, Commerce and Coercion. Tourism, Leisure and Recreation. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 41–53. ISBN 1-85567-549-8. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  28. ^ The New West Indian Sex tourists: survey[dead link]
  29. ^ "Gender Mainstreaming Mandates: Beijing Platform for Action (1995)". Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI). United Nations. 1995. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  30. ^ "New Global Treaty to Combat "Sex Slavery" of Women and Girls". 10th United Nations Congress on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders. United Nations Department of Public Information. February 2000. DPI/2098. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  31. ^ Falang: Behind Bangkok's Smile at the Internet Movie Database
  32. ^ Hope in Heaven at the Internet Movie Database
  33. ^ Hardcash Productions (7th October 2003). "The Child Sex Trade". Cutting Edge. Channel 4. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  34. ^ Sex Tourism, Talking Points, from Channel 4 [dead link]
  35. ^ My Boyfriend, the Sex Tourist at the Internet Movie Database