Sex tourism is when people travel to other countries to engage in prostitution, an activity that continues to perpetuate sex trafficking. One particular form of sex tourism that is particularly disturbing is child sex tourism.
Child sex tourism is when someone visits a different country to commit commercial sex acts, aka: prostitution, with a child (anyone under the age of 18). This is another form of child sex trafficking.
There are two different forms of child sex tourism:
- Situational Abusers
This refers to people who do not intentionally travel to seek-out sex with a child, but take advantage of them sexually while visiting. Those who participate in sex tourism are more likely to engage in child sex tourism, as they are actively seeking to pay for sex and may engage sexually with a minor who has falsified their age.
- Preferential Child Sex Abusers
These are adults who actively seeking to have sex with a child. While most of society may view these sex tourists as “those disgusting pedophiles,” those who seek to have sex with young women, or as some refer to as “barely legal,” may easily fall into this category unwittingly.
While there has been a distinction made between the two types of child sex tourism, they are equally heinous and destructive.
Four Contributing Factors of Child Sex Tourism
To effectively fight child sex tourism, it is important to understand the four different contributing factors of child sex tourism:
- Weak Law Enforcement
Many of the sex tourism destinations are in the developing world. Most of the developing world simply does not have the resources to fully enforce laws respecting child sex trafficking. Those developing countries where prostitution is legal have an even far greater problem, as this requires law enforcement to monitor the legalized sex trade.
- The Internet
Sex tourism and child pornography have become global industries with the use of the Internet. According to the U.S. State Department, the Internet expands the “choices available to consumers and permit[s] instant and nearly undetectable transactions.” It has also played a key role in “normalizing” the behavior, as those interested in child sex tourism are more likely to engage with like-minded individuals.
- Ease of Travel
Child sex tourism may occur during International business trips or done under the guise of a vacation. While airfare is not necessarily cheap, the cost and ease is minimal compared to the risk of indulging in child sex domestically.
This fourth and final contributor far outweighs the previous three. Economic disparity is one of the biggest reasons why many children are thrown into sex tourism.
You can see by these outlining factors, that stopping child sex tourism is not easy and why it continues to grow.
The more people who participate in child sex tourism, the more difficult it will be to stop as it becomes more socially acceptable. The fact that this many people indulge in child sex tourism should be a warning to us culturally. Curbing the demand is essential!
As to fighting child sex tourism on the ground, it is going to take more than passing laws to stop this trend. Creating economic opportunities and choices in the developing world would make a huge difference in ending child sex tourism.