According to a research by Taylor (2001), sex tourism is increasingly becoming common, especially in the developing economies in Africa and parts of Asia-Pacific. However, the question as to whether the concept of managing sex tourism is inherently offensive has remained controversial for the past several years. According to Harrison (2001), sex tourism refers to trips within the sector of tourism with primary aim of having commercial sex relationship with the residents at the point of destination. Tourists in this case make their travels primarily to get sexual satisfaction in the points of destination.
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In this context, managing sex tourism refers to developing clear systems and structures that facilitate sex tourism in a given destination. This management brings together the government, tour operators, the hotels, sex workers, and all other relevant stakeholders to come up with an industry that is legal, taxed, and protected. Is this concept of managing sex tourism inherently offensive? This is the question that the researcher seeks to answer by looking at the views of those in support and those opposed to it.
It is very important to first understand the concept of sex tourism before attempting to state whether or not it is offensive for it to be managed. As explained in the introductory section above, sex tourism refers to an aspect of tourism where the primary aim of the tourist is to have in sexual engagements with the people in their destination. Male and female sex tourists have a number of factors in common. First, they have financial capacity to enable them pay for the services they seek. In most of the cases, they are rarely seeking for emotional attachments with their clients. The people who are targeted in this industry are young, jobless and sometimes homeless people who are easily contented with little favours that can help them feed, clothe, and house themselves.
Poverty and hopelessness in life are the two main leading reasons why people become workers in the sex industry. According to Del (2005), majority of the sex workers, both male and female, are always not proud of their profession. However, they lack alternatives that can help them fight poverty and hopelessness. Some of the major consequences of working in this industry include contracting sexually transmitted diseases, physical and verbal abuse by the clients, harassments from the local authorities, and even slavery. A study by Williams (2013) shows that sex tourism is associated with countries that are poor. It is only the poor and disparate individuals who consider engaging in sex tourism as a means of earning a living.
According to Taylor (2001), it is very important to manage sex tourism in order to regulate it and ensure that people involved in it are adequately protected. Prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world. Despite the negativity with which many people view it, it has grown in popularity in all parts of the world irrespective of issues such as religion and status of the society. According to Rivers-Moore (2012), the biggest problem that most societies around the world face is the silence that is always received when this topic arises. The society, and especially people in government, does not want to talk about sex tourism. Everyone knows that it exists even with ambiguous laws that prohibit it, but they do not want to face the truth. They prefer assuming that it does not exist, and for those who work in the industry, they are considered social outcast. This is the genesis of the major problems faced in the sex tourism industry.
According to Harrison (2001), sex workers in many countries where the industry is not managed are always subjected to many sufferings. Some of them are physically abused, but they do not have the law on their side. The owners of hotels would exploit men and women in this industry because these sex workers rely on them to survive. The police would harass these people regularly, either demanding for free service or bribes. In such environments, these workers have limited ability to define what happens to them. Jacobs (2010) says that managing this industry will change this trend. The sex workers will be considered citizens who are engaged in legal industry that has clear regulatory policies. The tourists and their clients will have a good environment where they can negotiate and reach agreements that are suitable for both parties. If these workers are offended in any way, they have a legal system that can duly protect them, not harshly judge them as prostitutes.
According to Clift (2000), the problem of human trafficking has been a major problem not only in the developing countries but also in the developed nations around the world. Women have been the greatest casualties. They are kidnapped in one part of the world and transported to another part where they work as sex slaves. They are kept in hotel rooms which act as cages. They are not allowed to interact with the outside world. In fact, Rivers-Moore (2012) says that they are viewed as properties that do not have all the basic human rights. They are abused all the times and they rarely benefit from the money they earn their abductors. The reason why this problem has persisted is that sex tourism is not managed.
In most parts of the world, this industry is run in a clandestine manner that law and order cannot prevail. Hotels where these services are offered have special arrangement with law enforcement officers who visit regularly to collect money because the business in itself is illegal in such countries. It means that no one will take an audit of women in such hotels and determine whether or not they are in the industry out of their own free will.
If this industry can be managed, then these hotels will be expected to engage in ethical practices. There will be special government officers who will be assigned the role of auditing women working in the industry and ensuring that their rights are protected at all times. In such regulated environments, it will be easy to fight human trafficking and sex slavery that is increasingly becoming popular in many parts of the world (Hitchcock, King, & Parnwell 2009).
Sex tourism is a major industry that can earn a government handsome amount of money in form of tax. According to Williams (2013), it is a known fact that in almost all countries around the world, there is some form of sex tourism that is practiced either directly or indirectly. When it is prohibited by law, then it is always done in a clandestine manner. The government stands to benefit if this industry can be properly managed. It will not only create jobs for the sex workers but also government employees who will be assigned the task of conducting life audit of the sex workers and ensure that their lives are protected at all times. The earnings from such taxes can be used to empower these sex workers and help them engage in safe practices that do not expose them to diseases and other problems that may affect them physically or psychologically.
Managing sex tourism is the only way of preventing excessively aggressive and brutal tourists who travel to different parts of the world to inflict bodily harm on their clients. According to a research by Kibicho (2009), showed that cases where sex workers are strangled to death or killed using other brutal means have become very common not only in developing countries, but also in Wealth nations in Europe and North America. Such criminals always go unpunished because such cases are rarely investigated. The government, the hotel managers, and other stakeholders involved in this industry already consider sex workers as outcasts in the society.
They are rejects who to them, lack most of the fundamental human rights. As such, their deaths, especially in circumstances when they were offering their services, are rarely investigated. Such bodies are always dumped in mortuaries by the police without any explanation as to how they met their death. This is one of the greatest injustices that sex workers, especially women, face in their profession. The perpetrators, who know that they are never investigated, will continue with their heinous acts because they know that these poor workers are not protected by the law.
The opponents of the concept of managing sex tourism argue that prostitution (sex for money) in itself in an immoral act. They argue that sex tourism should entirely be prohibited and measures put in place to punish the perpetrators. Any attempt by the government to manage sex tourism will be legitimizing the trade that is prohibited among many religious groups. It will be a clear communication from the government that prostitution is tolerated and that one can engage in it at will without facing any consequences.
Many nations around the world, including most of the developing nations where sex tourism is very rampant, have laws that prohibit prostitution. Managing sex tourism means legitimizing this practice. It means changing the law and accepting prostitution as a virtue that the society respects. This is one of the reasons why many people are opposed to managing this industry (Davidson 2001).
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According to Taylor (2001), the society is yet to accept prostitution as a practice that is normal among humanity. One of the main reasons why people resort to this practice is that they lack economic strength that can help them have access to basic needs in their lives such as food, shelter, and clothing. Most of them would state that given a better option, they would consider quitting prostitution.
In fact, a research by Brents, Jackson, and Hausbeck (2010) revealed that over 98% of the prostitutes in the United States feel that the practice is shameful and that they would not want their children involved in it. They stated that they were working in the sex industry to earn a living and take their children to school so that they can become better citizens working in decent offices within the country. If the prostitutes themselves are ashamed of their practices, why would the government legitimize it? It goes against some of the basic morals in the society.
According to Brennan (2004), children learn from what they see in the society. Many in the society would not want to see a scenario where their children grow up knowing that prostitution is an option in life. This is one of the industries that expose the workers to numerous diseases most of which are contagious. According to Brennan (2004), whether or not prostitution is legalized, sex workers always expose themselves to serious danger of acquiring numerous diseases that are transmitted through sex.
This may be because of a conscious or unconscious decision not to use protection, or malfunction of the protective materials. Diseases such as genital harpers can be transferred even when one engages in safe sex. Even if it were to earn government money in form of tax, such earnings will all be spent in buying drugs, machines, and paying doctors to treat diseases such as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital harpers, and numerous other sexually transmitted diseases.
A good number of these sex workers eventually become HIV-positive. When they get sick and weak, they become unable to engage in their business that requires them to be very attractive and active. They start relying on other members of the society, becoming a burden to the society. Some of them leave their young children under the care of their aging parents after their death. That is why under no circumstance should prostitution be popularized or legitimized by coming up with a system to manage sex tourism (Seabrook 2000). It should remain an illegal business that every child would want to avoid at all costs when they are growing up. Instead of managing sex tourism, Rivers-Moore (2012) says that it should be completely banned and measures put in place to curb it because it is a dangerous vice.
The above discussion that looks at the varying views of various stakeholders can help in answering the question posed in this research. Yes, managing sex tourism is inherently offensive, but it is a practice that the society may be forced to embrace. Indeed prostitution is largely considered an immoral vice that should be avoided as much as possible. Our children should grow up knowing that they need to work hard to earn a living, and that prostitution is not an option when they fail to get decent jobs.
However, the truth is that prostitution has been in existence since the history of humankind, and chances are high that it is here to stay. It is also true that prohibiting sex tourism may be simply but ensuring that it does not take place is a very complex task that no government can actually succeed in implementing it. This is so because it happens between two consenting individuals who can easily say they are couples. The best that can be done to ensure that children below 18 years are protected is to manage this industry. The best that the government can do to protect those who are forced by fate into the industry is to come up with measures to ensure that it only happens among two consenting adults in a fair environment.
List of References
Brennan, D 2004, What’s Love Got to Do with It: Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic, Duke University Press, Durham.
Brents, B, Jackson, C & Hausbeck, K 2010, The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex, and Sin in the New American Heartland, Routledge, Print New York.
Clift, S 2000, Tourism and Sex: Culture, Commerce and Coercion, Pinter, London.
Davidson, J 2001, Children in the Sex Trade in China, Save the Children Sweden, Stockholm.
Del, C 2005, Creating “tourism Space”: The Social Construction of Sex Tourism in Thailand, McMillan, London.
Harrison, D 2001, Tourism and the Less Developed World Issues and Case Studies: Issues and Case Studies, CABI, Wallingford.
Hitchcock, M, King, V, & Parnwell, M 2009, Tourism in Southeast Asia: Challenges and New Directions, NIAS, Copenhagen.
Jacobs, J 2010, Sex, Tourism and the Postcolonial Encounter: Landscapes of Longing in Egypt, Ashgate, Farnham.
Kibicho, W 2009, Sex Tourism in Africa: Kenya’s Booming Industry, Ashgate, Farnham.
Rivers-Moore, D & Fox, L 2012, Lamb Loves Springtime, Barrons, Hauppauge.
Seabrook, J 2000, No Hiding Place: Child Sex Tourism and the Role of Extraterritorial Legislation, Zed Books, London.
Taylor, J 2001, Where Did Christianity Come From, Liturgical Press, Collegeville.
Williams, E 2013, Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements, Springer, New York.