One form of sexual exploitation of minors around the world is child sex tourism. This phenomenon is under reported and often carried out under the disguise of tourism. This form of child sexual abuse seems to be a means where some offenders of sexual abuse in family turn to for sexual gratification with victims who are stranger instead of members of their family.
What then is child sex tourism? It refers to acts perpetrated by those who are traveling or using their status as tourists in order to sexually exploit children. It is considered a sub-type of child prostitution with clear links to the tourism industry. Child sex tourists (CST) travel to a foreign country for the purpose of engaging in commercial sexual abuse of children.
The United Nations (UN) defines child sex tourism as organized tourism that facilitates the commercial sexual exploitation of anyone under 18 years of age. This may involve child trafficking, child prostitution, child pornography and the sale of children for sexual exploitation. CST occurs in any country or tourism destination.
Child sex tourists are domestic travellers within their own country of residence as well as international tourists. Some international tourists visit countries with an explicit desire to engage in child sex exploitation, while others decide spontaneously or impulsively. Child sex tourists come from all occupations and cultures: they may be married or single, male or female, wealthy tourists or budget travellers
Offenders of child sex tourism are classified into three categories namely, situational, preferential and pedophile.
1. Situational Sex Tourist: The situational offender is an indiscriminate sex tourist who is presented with the opportunity to interact sexually with a child.
2. Preferential Child Sex Tourist: The preferential child sex tourist displays an active sexual preference for children. He may still have the capacity to experience sexual attraction for adults. They actively seek out children, pubescent or adolescent children.
3. Pedophile Child Sex Tourist: The pedophile manifests an exclusive sexual inclination for pre-pubescent children. The pedophile may not show any preference for the gender of children and may not view sexual contact with children as harmful
Child sex tourism is a horrible crime against children with many traumatic impacts on the life of victims. Therefore, government and international organization and all who care for the welfare of children and minors need to collaborate in finding ways in which it can be prevented through:
- Raise awareness of the phenomenon of child sex tourism.
- Intensify efforts to stem the flow of sex tourists into their countries.
- Strengthen the effectiveness of laws and law enforcement, including extraterritorial criminal laws.
- Train officers to identify child victims of sex tourism.
- Prosecute offenders for child sex tourism.
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Sr. Rejoice Hoedoafia SOLT
CCP Research Assistant