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“Get the hell out of here!” he yelled at them. “Get a room!”
The above was highlighted in DailyJournal.com and reported as the response of a coastal beach resident when he caught two tourist having sex against the wall of his house near an entertainment spot frequented by tourists in New Jersey (Perry).
Morals issues aside, tourism is a big and crucial business all over the world. It is so vital that some countries solely rely on it for the bulk of foreign exchange to run their government. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates for 2011 show that international tourism raked in US$1,030 billion ,representing an increase of about 3.9% compared to the previous year while demand for international tourism continue to surge, having experienced a growth of 4.6% since 2010.
There is aggressive marketing of both popular and unpopular tourist destinations so as to realize even greater returns. From the same report, citizens of rich western countries form the bulk of regular tourists. Although some travel for business or even charity, the prime reason for many is to seek pleasure.
Tourism exerts both positive and negative effects on the host community. Besides being a crucial source of foreign exchange, it is a source of employment. A lot of people get to work in the hospitality, retails and transportation industry developed to cater for tourists. The positive side of tourism is well documented and researched. However, negative effects of tourism are less talked about and are mostly ignored, much to the detriment of the local host communities.
Although not all tourists travel for sexual adventures, tourism is routinely utilized by western citizen as an avenue for sexual exploration and gratification. Many reasons have been advanced to explain the sexual behavior of tourists abroad. One cites privacy of many tourists’ destinations as the primary reason that tourists exploit to experience sexual encounters they may shy away from at home.
Language barrier between tourists and the locals has been suggested to contribute to the making of wrong assumption by either party about the other. These wrong assumptions enable them justify their wrong behaviors.For example, tourists may consider their sexual activities to be beneficial through the payment they make for them that end up supporting local economies and poor families.
Additionally, economic superiority of tourists some of whom may be of quite lower economic class in their own countries may tempt the tourists to sexually exploit the locals. Tourists may also be seeking sexual satisfaction in their tour destinations due to failed relationships at home where they no longer dominate the opposite sex. The idea of being assured of affection and guaranteed sexual favors may be quite enticing to some.
This paper is a discussion of tourism from a moral perspective with special attention to sexual misconduct involving child sex tourism and the emerging trend of female tourism with the view of lending support to the idea that tourism contributes to the decline of moral values in society.
While morality may have different meaning to different people the type discussed in this paper relates to what is traditionally considered good behavior especially in matters of sexual relationship. The first part discusses various aspects of female sex tourism, an emerging trend of tourism associated with western and European women. In the second part, the child sex tourism menace is explored before a conclusion is drawn at the end of the paper.
Female sex tourism
Various media houses have reported a new form of sex tourism taking shape. Female sex tourism refers to female tourists paying for sex with local males in the destinations they visit. Female sex tourism has been likened to the male type whereby the goal is to travel and enjoy among other things cheap sex not available at home.
This is evident in many coastal towns and cities where the sight of an older white woman walking hand in hands with a young black man is common. Online news site globalpost.com, points out that female sex tourism is rampant in the Caribbean and reports its presence in Jordan, Senegal , Kenya, Egypt ,Indonesia ,Ukraine and much of southern Europe (Petersen).
The males middle-aged female tourists sleep with are mostly teenage local guides and other hospitality industry workers (Petersen). The young men are always at hand to have sex with the women, mostly of European origin in return for money, gifts or promises of emigration abroad, something which rarely happens, the site reports.
This new phenomenal social change has not been without controversy. While some have castigated it in the strongest terms possible, others claim it is nothing strange as the women are simply asserting their right of choice of a sexual partner just like men always do.
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Female sex tourism is still a hot debate topic and has been explored by filmmakers and writers. However, no one has condemned or openly supported it. Filmmakers and writers prefer to present it just as it is without adding further opinion perhaps fearing a backlash given the apparent societal “acceptance” and lack of criticism on male sex tourism. Recent films to explore this new trade include J. Michael Seyfert 2006’s “Rent-a-Rasta” and “Heading South” in the same year.
Female sex tourism has produced divergent views from many quarters. While others see it as harmless fun between two consenting but nevertheless unmatched adults, some regard it as pure exploitation. Critics claim this behavior is bound to seriously destabilize local communities and families.
In the Caribbean this practice is commonplace so much that the parties are referred to in derogatory slang. The men are referred to as “beach boy”, “Gringueros” or “rastatutes” while the women are called “milk bottle” perhaps because of their white skin or being considered bottles waiting to be filled (Petersen). In Indonesia and much of Asia they are locally known as “gigolos”, or “Kuta Cowboys”.
Asked why they do it, the women give conflicting answers. Some consider it a way of supporting the local economies in need of cash and are quick to add that the money and gift they give their “boyfriends” in turn end up supporting many poor families. For others, they say they are in it just for good sex they are unable to get at home.
Child sex tourism
Child sex tourism (CST) means travelling from ones country and engaging in activities that commercially exploit an underage child, below 18 year for sexual relationship or favors in the host destination (Chemin and Mbiekop; Walters and Davis). CST is a shameful act of sexual abuse that violates the rights of a child. Child sex tourism is on the increase (World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)).
According to US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, over one million children are sexually exploited each year. Child sex tourism is especially rampant in Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil and Mexico (Chemin and Mbiekop; Walters and Davis).
This practice is common in popular tourists’ destinations whereby underage (below 18 years) boys and girls engage in sex trade with adult tourists. In some cases CST is secretly organized by tour operators and travel agents for wealthy clients from abroad. Under the cover of some expedition, such as fishing, the tourists are supplied with young children while on sea.
According to a research on Brazil’s sex tourism by BBC’s Chris Rodgers, these youngsters, mostly from impoverished slum families, are forced into prostitution as a means of survival for themselves and their families. In some case they engage in the trade to earn money for hard drugs.
The report also adds that in some cases young girls are presented by their own parents to potential clients (Rodgers). The parents acting as pimps even negotiate with the clients on their behalf and end up keeping the money paid. Although many authorities claim to be fighting the scourge, it still remains very alive in most streets.
The deviant sexual behavior is encouraged by the private nature provided by travels to distant tourists’ resorts. Tourist choose to experiment with whatever fantasy they may be having as they are aware there is little likelihood of detection.
Here in foreign cities that welcome them with open arms the tourist finds himself doing what he/she could not even contemplate while at home. Ignorance of local cultures and Language barrier between the tourist and host usually blinds the tourists about unbecoming sexual conduct and this makes them make untrue assumptions about the local populace.
Child sex tourism is propagated by a number of parties. Western men seeking children are the major clients while locals are the prime suppliers, encouraged by the hefty amounts they make from the trade. This trade is so profitable that locals choose to overcome low number of children in the industry through kidnappings.
Perturbed by the practice and under pressure from children rights groups, many western governments have stepped up efforts to stamp out the vice through legislation and monitoring initiatives. In the United States, the PROTECT Act of April 2003 criminalizes any form of sexual intimacy with a minor abroad. In United Kingdom, citizens committing child related sex offences abroad are liable for prosecution under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 that covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Similar laws exist in Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. However, little legal effort is evident in the hotspots of South America countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and in Southeast Asia/Pacific and Caribbean countries. Other efforts include monitoring convicted offenders movement and keeping of offenders register by some countries.
Abnormal sexual behaviors such as sexual exploitation of children have been associated with tourism. In the same light, tourism has given rise to unconventional practices such as female sex tourism. In the former, tourists travel from their home countries to another where they engage in sexual activities with underage children.
In the later single women mostly of western and European origin travel to poor countries and participate in sexual acts with local males in exchange for money and gifts. Therefore, it can be rightly concluded that tourism can facilitate degradation of moral values in society. This has been explained by the fact that the very nature of tourism gives individuals freedom to explore and justify their fantasies much to the detriment of the locals. As a remedial measure, some governments have enacted anti-CST laws.
Chemin, Matthieu and Flaubert Mbiekop. Cracking Down Child Sex Tourism in a Global Economy. 2010. Web.
Perry, Wayne. “Tourists behave badly at shore.” DailyJournal.com. Associated Press, 2012. Web.
Rodgers, Chris. “Brazil’s sex tourism boom.” BBC. BBC, 2010. Web.
State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Facts About Child Sex Tourism 2012. Washington D. C, 2009. Web.
Walters, Jim and Patricia H. Davis. “Human Trafficking, Sex Tourism, and Child Exploitation on the Southern Border.” Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk 2.1 (2011): 1-18.eScholarship.Web.
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Tourism Highlights 2012 Edition. 2012. Web.