Child Sex Tourism

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Every recognized country in the world, except for the United States and the collapsed state of Somalia, has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, pledging to uphold its protections for children. Today the convention stands as the single most widely ratified treaty in existence. See Promises Broken


What is Child Sex Tourism

Child Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual activity with children. It is typically undertaken internationally by tourists, business travellers or foreigners from wealthier countries.

Attractions for sex tourists can include reduced costs for services in the destination country, along with either legal prostitution or indifferent law enforcement and access to child prostitution. Child sex tourism can happen anywhere but especially where there are vulnerable children, weak laws and law enforcement and people who don’t know how to help. Sex tourism - Wikipedia

Sex tourism is a very lucrative industry that spans the globe. In 1998, the International Labour Organization reported its calculations that 2-14% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Phillipines, and Thailand derives from sex tourism. Refer to Child Sex Tourism

Extent and Notorious Child Sex Tourism Destinations

The most popular destinations for child sex abusers are countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.

The flow of child sex tourists are generally from developed countries in Western Europe, Scandinavian countries, North America, Australasia, and the Gulf to poorer countries in Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean. Yet it is important to note, that some wealthy individuals from countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and India, have been known to engage in sex tourism. See Fact Sheet

The unfortunate problem when governments initiate a crack-down on the issue,is that child sex tourists opt for neighbouring countries. An example of this is the move from Thailand to Cambodia. A large part of the problem of tourism is the eternal search for the "exotic" the same applies to child sex tourism destinations. For example, Costa Rica is viewed as “Thailand in the backyard” for North Americans.

Although it is nearly impossible to provide accurate statistics about the number of children involved in prostitution, the examples below provide an overview of the problem

  • Cambodia: As of 1995 one survey found minors from 13 to 17 years of age comprised about 31 percent of sex workers.
  • China: As of 1994 the Peking People's Daily reported more than 10,000 women and children were abducted and sold each year in Sichaun alone.
  • Costa Rica: The capital city of San Jose is home to more than 2,000 child prostitutes. Across the country, children are regularly sold to foreign pedophiles as part of sex-tour "packages".
  • India: In 1995, 20 percent of Bombay's brothel population was composed of girls who were younger than 18, at least half of whom were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive.
  • Sri Lanka: 100,000 children between the ages of 6 and 14 are kept in brothels and an additional 5,000 children between 10 and 18 are working in tourist areas.
  • Taiwan: Estimates indicate the number of children in the sex industry to be around 100,000.
According to recent reports, Americans comprise an estimated 25% of all sex tourists. In countries such as Cambodia and Costa Rica, the percentage of American sex tourists jumps to 38% and 80%, respectively. Refer to Children as Tourist Attractions

Causes and Context

Although children from all social and economic backgrounds are at risk of sexual abuse, those most vulnerable live in economically depressed situations. Street children are particularly vulnerable, as they have very few resources and networks to turn to for protection. Children in poverty-stricken countries can be more vulnerable if their families are desperate for income.

Below are the most common reasons why children are pushed into trafficking

  • poverty
  • gender bias
  • family breakdown
  • lack of laws and enforcement
  • increasing materialism
  • rural-urban migration
  • subsistence to cash economy

Role of the Internet

The advent of the Internet has revolutionized the growth of the sex-tourism-of-children industry. Some Internet chatrooms, message boards, and online organizations not only encourage this form of tourism, but give detailed instructions about how to partake in it.

The various areas of the Internet allow offenders to communicate with others who have already traveled to another country for this purpose. From the comfort of their own homes, they can plan their vacation and purchase their tickets with relative anonymity.

Read this paper on Child abuse and the Internet

Prostitution in Thailand

Prostitution has become an industry in Thailand with the major help of the United States military and the World Bank. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Department of Defense had a contract with the Thai government to provide "Recreation & Relaxation" for U.S. soldiers. With money from the U.S. government, local Thai prostitution organized and expanded into a major industry. In 1975, the World Bank built an economic plan for Thailand around the sex tourism industry, which helped turn sex tourism into the country's number one export. Prostitution has now become such an important industry, that work to end prostitution must also support the growth of new industries. Source - Prostitution & Sex Tourism

The Demand Factor

According to an Ecpat report (JOINT EAST WEST RESEARCH ON TRAFFICKING IN CHILDREN FOR SEXUAL PURPOSES IN EUROPE:THE SENDING COUNTRIES 2004) the demand appears to reflect opportunism on the part of clients to a large supply of vulnerable young people. Traffickers accept any transaction that brings profits, and take into account not only the demand from the destination countries but also the fact that children do not know their rights and cannot protect themselves as well as adults.

  • For a trafficker, young people are more vulnerable and more easily influenced and controlled (by violence or other means).
  • Prices paid for minors vary according to the destination country, the purpose of trafficking and the physical qualities of the young person.
  • There is a very specific demand for young boys in Western European countries, and the Moldovan research mentions demand for virgin girls.
  • Adoption procedures are being used to traffic young children, with the

possibility that they are subsequently used for sexual exploitation.

Did you know?

Studies indicate that child prostitutes serve between two and thirty clients per week, leading to a shocking estimated base of anywhere between 100 to 1500 clients per year, per child. Younger children, many below the age of 10, have been increasingly drawn into serving tourists.
Source-Child Sex Tourism

Watch the youtube video of "Cambodia - Child Sex Slavery"


  • 'The approach is unchanging: 'You want young girl, little girl?'
  • UK police join fight against Thai child sex tourism
  • Child sex in Kenya: Kenyans are the biggest customers
  • Acknowledging India's history and cultural contexts

Movies and Documentaries

  • Investigative Reports: Child Sex Trade (1997)
  • Innocence Lost: Child sex tourism booms in Africa
  • Page 3 (Bollywood film made by Madhur Bhandarkar)
  • Palindromes
  • For a larger list of films go to - List of films featuring pedophilia - Wikipedia

International Laws regarding Child Sex Tourism

  • Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25, art. 34, U.N. Doc. A/RES/44/25 (Nov. 20, 1989). Current ratification status of CRC available at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • U.S. Federal Law Regarding Child Sex Tourism 18 USC 2423
  • Australian legislation on child sex tourism
  • Further reading about the Australian Legislation
  • UK Legislation-Under the UK Sexual Offences Act, 2003, article 72, persons can be prosecuted for a crime that is viewed as a criminal offence in both countries.
  • Japan Laws for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, art. 4 (Japan), translation available here
  • The Philippine government has promoted the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

What is Extraterritorial legislation?

Extraterritorial legislation allows a country to prosecute is own nationals for crimes against children that have been committed in another country. To date, 32 countries have enacted extraterritorial legislation. The problem arises when the offense in question be recognized as a crime both in the foreign country and in the offenders country(known as double criminality).

Nevertheless, there are still problems. Obstacles exist when authorities try to conduct investigations and prosecute individuals for crimes committed outside of the country. Collecting evidence and testimonies require cooperation with the local police. The differences in language, culture, and attitudes toward sex with children make things very difficult. See the latest on the legislation

What Governments can do

Enhance Research and Coordination:

  • Research the extent and nature of the problem
  • Draft an action plan for addressing CST and adopt a tourism code of conduct
  • Designate a government point of contact to coordinate efforts with non-governmental, intergovernmental and travel/tourism organizations.
  • Conduct awareness-raising activities with travel companies and tourists alike. Formulate a media campaign.

Augment Prevention and Training:

  • Inform travellers and nationals of existing legislation.
  • Encourage the travel industry to sign and implement the Code of Conduct
  • Fund and/or launch public awareness campaigns, highlighting relevant extraterritorial laws;
  • Train and sensitize law enforcement on the issue
  • Ensure that border and airport officials report any suspected cases of child trafficking
  • Strengthen Legal Measures and Prosecutions

Draft, pass and/or enforce extraterritorial laws criminalizing CST

  • Increase punishment for offenders
  • Prosecute the crime to the fullest extent possible

Assist Victims

  • Provide shelter, counselling, medical, and legal assistance to victims;
  • Provide reintegration assistance as appropriate; and
  • Support the efforts of NGOs working with child victims.

Today, twenty-four countries around the world have legislation that makes “child sex tourism”, and its associated practices, a criminal conduct, even when the act concerned was committed overseas (ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking) February/March 1999, p. 3) Australia introduced offences relating to “child sex tourism” in 1994. Since this time, anumber of cases have proceeded through the courts and resulted insome substantial convictions.

To read more go to, Child Sex Tourism

What Businesses can do

Travel, tourism, and hospitality companies can formulate and sign a Code of Conduct to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, which requires them to implement the following measures:

  • Establish a corporate ethical policy against commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC)
  • Place clauses in contracts with suppliers stating a common repudiation of CSEC
  • Report annually on their progress
  • Train tourism personnel
  • Provide information to travelers
  • Provide information to local "key persons" at travel destinations.

What we as travellers can do

  • Stay informed and support the efforts of authorities and the tourism industry to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children
  • Report to the authorities abroad and/or to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement if you suspect children are being commercially sexually exploited in tourism destinations
  • Read about the Extraterrestrial laws governing child trafficking and the member countries.
  • Support the efforts of NGOs working to protect children from commercial sexual exploitation.


  • The Facts About Child Sex Tourism
  • Slavery in the 21st Century
  • A Situational Analysis of Child Sex Tourism in India
  • A Situational Analysis of Child Sex Tourism in Nepal
  • The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: Its Relevance for Social Scientists

Must Reads

  • Profile of a Paedophile
  • Suspecting Someone of Sexual Abuse

Children's Safety

  • Ensuring your children's safety online and off-line:

Bringing the Lessons Home

Teenage networking websites face anti-paedophile investigation

Child Pornography

  • Buy online The Parent's Guide to Protecting your Children in Cyberspace

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

  • Ahave Kids
  • Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
  • Children's Rights in Goa (C.R.G.)
  • Asha-Odanadi Sanctuary Conference
  • Asha for Education


Looking away helps nobody - except the perpetrators.

Here you can find the addresses of international and local organisations involved in the global fiight against the sexual exploitation of children in tourism. They are all actively working to implement the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child.

Further addresses of aid organisations can be found here (in German).

International Organisations

International Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) actively involved to enforce the UN-Convention of the Rights of the Child and expert organisations in the global fight against sexual exploitation of children in tourism.

  • Child Centre for Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region
  • Rights Information Network (CRIN)
  • Concorde(Confederation for Relief and Development)
  • End Childs Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT International)
  • International Federation Terre des Hommes
  • International Labour Organization (ILO) (International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour)
  • International Save the Children Alliance
  • International Society for Prevention of Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN)
  • Oak Philanthropy Limited
  • OECD
  • UNICEF Headquarter New York
  • World Tourism Organization

See Also