The bad news is that children in poor countries are still sexually exploited by travellers, The good news is that you can do something about it: Child sex tourism is the commercial sexual exploitation of children by people who travel from one place to another to engage in sexual acts with minors. Often, child sex tourists travel from a richer country to one that is less developed, or they may be travellers within their own countries or region. Some child sex tourists (preferential abusers and paedophiles) target children specifically, but most do not usually have a sexual preference for children; they are situational abusers who unscrupulously take advantage of a situation in which children are made available to them. Child sex tourists take advantage of their anonymity as well as the socio-economic disparities in the locations they visit. They may try to rationalise their actions by claiming sex with a child is culturally acceptable or that money or goods exchanged benefit the child and community, or by setting their own thresholds for defining who is a child (under the CRC, a child is anyone under the age of 18).
In the global scale countries such as Cuba, Thailand, Kambodja, Gambia and Costa Rica are examples of the most popular destinations for child sex tourists. Even though we can think which ‘exotic’ countries are the most popular amongst our countrymen, the alarming situation of growing child sex tourism has not received enough political focus in the countries sending the tourists.
However, the situation is slowly changing. Air France is nowadays showing a short film anti-child prostitution film during their long distance flights. In January 2010 Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin launched a new campaign against child sex tourism in order to the Dutch people to be more alert and to report child abuse by compatriots themselves. The Dutch Royal Military Police is asking people to keep their eyes and ears open:
Say what you hear, look around you when you’re at the beach or having dinner at your restaurant and you see men of an age between fifty and sixty with very young children. Especially bars where you see young children and something in your stomach says: this is not right.
The global network of organizations and individuals in 80 countries – ECPAT – is working together to eliminate child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation. The ECPAT acronym stands for ‘ End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes’.
In 2009 ECPAT Sweden launched a new campaign against child sex tourism/ travelling child sex offenders. Kim – a fictional character invented by the organization – is currently displayed in different media asking people to join in the fight. Kim could be a boy in South East Asia or a girl in South America. He/she represents all the victims of child sex tourism. But Kim is more than that. The supportKim.com website is the heart of the campaign. It collects news and discussions about this difficult subject while making it easy for everyone to join, using Facebook, blogs, email and more. Today Kim has over 8600 supporters. Do you want to help Kim in the fight against child sex tourism? Join Kim here or on Facebook.
Text: Emily H?ckert
Main source of information: ECPAT
Image: ECPAT Sweden