Sex Tourism / Is There Anything Romantic About It?
What’s your main goal while traveling? Sightseeing, tasting different cuisines, discovering local customs and traditions or maybe it is sex? Actually, sex tourism is a multibillion-dollar worth industry, which globally supports millions of people and also benefits service industries, such as airlines, taxi, restaurants and accommodation providers. No doubt it sparks curiosity and makes you wonder why some people are willing to travel thousands of miles for this kind of experience. Let’s investigate!
24 May, 2019
by AISTE ZALAITE
Many popular sex tourism destinations look like some kind of “dreamy” places where one would like to fall in love: white beaches, sky-blue water or breathtaking mountains. At least, this is how these countries advertise themselves, in reality, you could just easily jump in a taxi and ask a driver to take you to the red-light street or straight to the most popular brothel. Interestingly, depending on your gender, you should pick the continent wisely!
Barbados, Brazil, Cyprus, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Jamaica, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey.
Brazil, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Netherlands, Nepal, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Ukraine, or really everywhere.
Female sex tourism is usually sugar-coated into the term “female love tourism”. Women claim that they feel rejected by the Western men for being fatter and older hence they travel to exotic places to get some well-deserved tenderness. Typically, it is elderly European and North American women who are traveling to get their desired love story with a local guy from a particular country. Often, women escape being called as “dirty customers” because in addition to romantic affairs they are also buying dinners and taking romantic walks by the beach in exchange for “helping young men financially”.
Another story is about men - male sex tourism for a long time has had a label of exploitative behaviour. Nowadays, even if no physical violence is used, from the public confessions it seems like men are seeing things differently than women - what a cliché. Men who go to the so-called “sexual Disneylands” claim that back home “sex is almost exclusively arranged in the confusing context of dating”, thus, going there where no questions are asked is refreshing and liberating for them. As well, men mention that with growing feminism they feel that it is no longer possible to strike a conversation with women easily as they are afraid of being misunderstood or accused of harassment.
Every side has its own excuses to buy a ticket and convince themselves that there is nothing wrong with their choice.
You might be surprised but money is not always involved. There are many cases where giving food or shelter for a sex worker is enough. Also, money or any form of payment does not stand a chance against a possibility that MAYBE your customer will fall in love with you and bring you with him or her to the Western world. This fairytale is widely spread by a word of mouth and even portrayed in various romantic movies or novels.
Even though there are quite many countries where prostitution is legal or not regulated enough, the multibillion-dollar industry fuels human trafficking and child sex tourism. The argument “she or he loves doing this” in most of the cases is not valid as millions of sex workers are living in poverty and it is common for families in Asia or South America to sell their children (usually young girls) for this humiliating business. It might not sound sexy to ask a prostitute whether s/he was trafficked but you can never know what is happening beneath that wide smile.
Another question, which could naturally arise when looking at a young face under you is how old is a sex worker. In 2 million cases she or he wouldn’t be allowed to work at all in developed countries, let alone in the sex industry.
Final warning – if you are sure that above-mentioned threats have nothing to do with your fun time, at least get tested for STDs.
Coming to an “adults’ Disneyland” might feel like it is possible to fill that void inside or escape your everyday life. I bet it does a trick for a while, however, in the long run, reality shows that those who become obsessed with the red district lifestyle cannot handle themselves – every year an increasing number of Western men are committing suicide from their hotel balconies.
Like most of the time solution lies in awareness. Ending sexual exploitation is only possible with sharing victims’ experiences and not only focusing on implementing laws but rather on their enforcement, meaning not turning away from those who seek for help.
All in all, if your eye got caught by scandalous AirAsia airlines advertisement “Get off in Thailand” and you are reconsidering the purpose of your next travel for a change, I will leave you with a thought that sex tourism is mostly driven by the legacy of colonialism.