Child sex tourism

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Child sex tourism, an act which is most often considered morally reprehensible to most modern Boylovers if it involves the denial of a child's freedom of choice to reject a sexual encounter or relationship, is travel with the intent to engage in, or that leads to, sex with children at the traveler's destination. Although the travel can be either domestic or international, the term is usually used with regard to international travel. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography defines CST as "tourism organised with the primary purpose of facilitating the effecting of a commercial sexual relationship with a child". What constitutes a "commercial sexual relationship" is unclear since most sexual relationships, regardless of the age of the participants, involve some exchange of money or gifts (e.g. buying someone a drink at a bar, or paying for dinner or the rent on a shared apartment).

Virtual child sex tourism occurs when someone has an overseas child perform sex acts via webcam.[1]

There are preferential and situational child sex tourists. The former have a sexual preference for children, while the latter engage in sex with minors because the situation arises to do so.

The number of U.S. citizens arrested for child sex tourism has dramatically increased since 2003, when the PROTECT Act was implemented. The PROTECT Act changed the standard of evidence against foreign child-sex-crimes, so that prosecutors have to prove that a traveler had sex with someone younger than 18, and intent for traveling abroad is irrelevant. The U.S. ICE has arrested over sixty-seven individuals under the new legislation. Countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America host major CST destinations while North Americans constitute the main customer segment.

Ethics and effects of child sex tourism

Glenda Giron writes:[2]

As developing countries struggle to increase prosperity, the child sex tourism industry has emerged as a de facto tool to combat extreme poverty. . . . Ironically, there are cases in which the abusers are seen as saviors of impoverished communities. This was the case of Thomas Frank, an American man accused of sexually abusing up to seventy-nine Mexican boys. Yet after having financed the installation of potable water in the community, he was seen as the rescuer of the disadvantaged town. Even after the abuse cases were disclosed, many residents believed that he had done more good than harm to their community.

Enforcement of laws against child sex tourism

It is both expensive and time-consuming (generally several years) to investigate and prosecute child sex tourists. Agents are faced with a myriad of investigative challenges. Some of these challenges include: difficulty maintaining contact with the children; child sex tourists bribing children or their families to remain silent; unstructured or uncooperative local authorities; cultural barriers; and language barriers. Another challenge involves determining the chronological ages of the victims. Many children have no available birth records. There is also currently no reliable mechanism to estimate the ages of children in certain parts of the world.

These children are often difficult to track, as they frequently move locations and may be unidentified by local governments. Many children would have trouble describing specific child sex tourists after encountering incredible numbers of such tourists each year.

Some states, including Australia and the United Kingdom, prefer that their nationals be prosecuted in the country of the offense. However, many destination countries for CST in Southeast Asia lack the capacity to support CST prosecutions. Therefore, it is sometimes proposed that there be partnerships between local and international law enforcement agencies and NGOs to facilitate prosecution in the jurisdiction of the destination country. Such partnership arrangements would provide the resources and integration required to enable CST by foreigners to be prosecuted. NGOs undertake complex strategies to address what they consider the immediate needs of what they deem to be "exploited" children, while seeking to maintain their capacity to influence government policy.[3] When the political will to combat child sex tourism is lacking, diplomatic incentives and pressures are sometimes brought to bear.


  2. Giron, Glenda L (01/01/2005). "Underexposed child sex tourism industry in Guatemala". Kennedy School review 6: 59. 
  3. Curley, M. (2014). "Combating Child Sex Tourism in South-east Asia: Law Enforcement Cooperation and Civil Society Partnerships". Journal of Law and Society 41 (283–314). doi:10.1111/j.1467-6478.2014.00667.x.