“The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a fundamental violation of children’s rights. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object. The commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children, and amounts to forced labor and a contemporary form of slavery.”1 Child Sex Tourism is part of the global phenomenon of commercial sexual exploitation of children. It involves the sexual abuse exploitation of both male and female children, usually – but not always, in tourism destinations. Several studies have attempted to understand the extent and severity of the phenomenon, emphasizing different aspects thereof: be it travel trade, psychological, socioeconomic facets. The factors that push children into sexual exploitation are numerous for example: family disintegration, inequitable socio-economic structure, harmful and religious practices which undermines fulfilment of the basic need of the children. By treating the child as a commodity which can be purchased, hired sold or thrown away is no longer a question of poverty, but rather one of values, in particular the values of consumerism.
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According to NHRC Report on Trafficking in Women and Children, in India the population of women and children in sex work in India is stated to be between70, 000 and 1 million of these, 30% are 20 years of age. Nearly 15% began sex work when they were below 15 and 25% entered between 15 and 18 years (Mukherjee & Das 1996). In public view child sex tourism is not considered a major social issue in India, partly because of the perception that the problem is not as acute as in some countries of South East Asia and partly because the problem is largely associated only with poverty. Every hour, four women and girls in India enter prostitution, three of them against their will. Here when a women or a children are forced for such things then Are these not a concern related to ethics? This paper will discuss the causes of the problem of child prostitution for sexual needs in India.
Sex tourism refers to an organized tour whose primary purpose is the
commercial-sexual relationship with an individual from the country that he or she is visiting. There are three major categories of sexual exploitations that occur within sex tourism. These are prostitution, pornography and trafficking for sexual purpose. Recently, the trend of sex tourism is to provide sex tourists a wider number of children as opposed to older and more mature women. In fact, the commercial sexual exploitation of minors by international tourists today is considered as
a human tragedy occurring in a grand scale with virtually no consequences for those who practice this. The World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination”. But it also refers to business people, transport industry workers or military personnel. Attractions for sex tourists can include reduced costs for services in the destination country, along with either legal prostitution or weak law enforcement and access to child prostitution.
More than 2.4 million tourists visit India every year and growth of the tourism industry in the country has contributed to an increase in the sexual exploitation of children by tourists. Child sex tourism is prevalent in Goa, North Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, West Bengal and in Rajasthan. Mumbai is believed to be the ‘biggest centre for pedophilic commerce in India’. Child sex tourism involves hotels, travel agencies and tour operators and some companies openly advertise availability of child prostitutes. They have contacts with adult sex workers, rickshaw pullers; petty traders who make contact with street or other vulnerable children and bring them to tourist hotels and lodges. Children are often promised better jobs and then ‘forced’ into sex and in many cases moneylenders force parents to sell their children to repay debts. A traveler may not intend to engage in sex with children while he is away from home, but he does so because a child is made easily available to him. Opportunistic exploitation, then, along with organized child sex tourism, is a critical factor compounding the complex socio-economic factors that push children into local prostitution industries.
Here are some of the prominent facts about child sex tourism in India:
India has the largest number of children (375 million) in the world, nearly 40% of its population
69% of Indian children are victims of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse (or read it as every 2 out of 3)
New Delhi, the nation’s capital, has an abuse rate of over 83%
89% of the crimes are perpetrated by family members
Boys face more abuse (>72%) than girls (65%)
More than 70% of cases go unreported and unshared even with parents/family
There are many factors that make children vulnerable to sex tourism. They may also be called as a ‘Push factor’ for them in child sex. Let us discuss some of them.
Organised prostitution: It is known that child prostitution is the sexual exploitation of the child for remuneration in cash or in kind, usually but not always organized by an intermediary (parents, family members, procurers, etc.). Many children, particularly girls, are abused within brothels that are frequented by both, local, regional and foreign child abusers. Some research suggests that girls enter the sex industry as a direct result of coercion or an unspoken expectation by other family members, including sisters or mothers already in the industry. Many of the girls are from the States of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and often the daughters of migrant women involved in the sex industry.
Poverty and economic insecurity: The majority of the children, both migrant and local, come from poor backgrounds and have little or no access to education. The parents are unskilled workers from neighbouring States who need to migrate to various regions in search of employment. As a result, many of the children are also compelled to work and can be found around beach and resorts areas, often working as vendors. The nature of their work requires them to be friendly to tourists and therefore leaves them open to offers by sex tourists.
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Weak family structure: Family breakdown is seen as an important aspect leading to children being exposed to abuse. Many children have run away from home and live on the streets due to problems at home ranging from drug abuse, alcoholism or physical or mental illness. Like all children who suffer from violence and abuse, they may be physically, mentally injured. They are at high risk of: long-lasting physical, social, and psychological damage, disease (including HIV) or unwanted pregnancy and forced abortions.
Lack of parental supervision: Many of the abused are migrant workers’ children who are unsupervised and alone on the streets while their parents take up casual or daily wage work in Goa. These children often end up wandering on the streets and are vulnerable to the lures of sex tourists.
Trafficking: Trafficking of children is a worldwide phenomenon affecting large numbers of boys and girls every day. Children and their families are often lured by the promise of better employment and a more prosperous life far from their homes. Others are kidnapped and sold. Trafficking violates a child’s right to grow up in a family environment and exposes him or her to a range of dangers, including violence and sexual abuse. There is also some evidence to suggest that children are being trafficked to Goa from other parts of the country or even from other countries for purposes of sexual exploitation. Children are also sold by poor families from different regions and then forced into working in the sex industry or other labour around coastal areas where they are at risk from sex offenders. It appears that some families sexually exploit their own children by either selling them to traffickers or by forcing them into prostitution. Such families prize material benefits at the cost of any abuse to their child.
Pornography: Pornography is like a media in sex tourism. Child prostitution is somehow connected with child pornography. It refers to the visual or audio depiction of the child for the sexual gratification of the use, and involves the production, distribution and or use of such material. Pornographic images of children are often copied multiple times and may remain in circulation for many years; the victim continues to be subjected to humiliation long after the image has been made.
Discrimination: Many prostitutes in India are victims of the Devadasis (temple prostitute) system and have been ‘dedicated’ to the Goddess Yellamma (around 10,000 girls in India are dedicated annually). Goa is no different and many of the girls in its red light districts are victims of this system.
After knowing all the factors which push children into such vulnerable situation, one thing which comes instantly into mind is that all contrary to the principles of ‘Integrity’ and ‘Fairness’. It is always questionable that ‘Are these children not a human being?’ ‘How a parent can do such pitiful things with their own child?’Every child has its own integrity and has the right to live a life of respectful human being. The exploitation of human beings dehumanizes the individuals who are trafficked, rewards the inhumanity of the traffickers, and weakens the moral and social fabric of society at large. Restoring dignity to persons who have been exploited is not easy, and the danger of paternalizing trafficked victims in the name of aiding them must be kept in view. Traffickers and parents who expose their children need to be stopped and held accountable, but they also need those who will help them to a transformation of heart and mind.
Sex tourism is the dark side of the global phenomenon of tourism. Every day we read about the benefits of tourism, its income and employment potential, its ability to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, its potential to overcome uneven development in backward regions of the world Asks why sex tourism is being condoned and wonders why more voices are not raised in protest against its continuance. It often raises a concern for the Indian society but why only India society, child sex tourism is the part of every country whether in Asia or Europe or America. Do societies and Government need not to show ‘Concern and Respect’ towards these children. Children are the future and some even call them ‘Gift of God’.
Travellers who travel to some less developed country think that they have all the rights to use people as they want. The methods that sex offenders use to lure children into abusive situations range from offering them money or gifts, convincing parents that the child will enjoy a better life and providing children with shelter and employment. Such grooming methods are the hallmark of the preferential sex offender whereas the opportunistic ones exploit the children they meet on the street or are offered by pimps.
The justifications that sex tourists offer for their abuse of children include the perception that they are helping the children monetarily and also giving children the ‘love’ that they appear to crave. Many travel agencies, hotels and others are all involved in this whole process. These people think that it is part of their job and they are rendering their services to these travellers. But are their not any ‘Code of Ethics’ in tourism industry. Develop an ethical policy regarding trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children. Providing information to tourists on CST and request them to help dealing with the problem by informing if they see any doubtful behaviour of tourists who accompany children. To provide information to travellers by means of catalogues, brochures, in-flight films, ticket-slips, home pages, etc.
The study calls for specific national, regional and local actions to safeguard children who are being sexually exploited, or are at-risk of sexual exploitation. Recommendations include the Ministry of Tourism creating a National Plan of Action to Counter Child Abuse in Tourism and for businesses in the tourism industry to shoulder more responsibility for this problem by, for example, joining the Code of Conduct (www.thecode.org). It was recommended that state and central tourism departments report annually on the status of child abuse cases, set up mechanisms along with other bodies for the protection of children, and to demonstrate a clear stand against any form of child sex abuse. The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) are also called on to create a comprehensive Act that imposes severe punishment of offenders, including extradition laws (through the Ministry of Home Affairs). The report also calls for child sex tourism cases to be treated as non-bailable offences. Training on child rights laws and how to handle child abuse cases for Police was also recommended, along with sensitization training and mandatory reporting of child abuse (including adults traveling with children under suspicious circumstances) both by Police and by airport and railway authorities. More in-depth study on the commercial sexual exploitation of children is also necessary to inform policy, protection mechanisms and campaigns. What can we do? Here are my thoughts: Educate our children about sex. If you are not parents yourselves, but know and care about other families of friends and relatives, open up this topic for discussion and encourage the parents to do what is right. If you think talking about sex is difficult for you, don’t just be embarrassed, shrug it off, and give it up. Many parents don’t know their children are victims, and live in a fantasy world of “nothing like that would ever happen to my child”. Talk to your parents in order to understand what difficulties they had to face culturally when bringing you up. That may give clues to how to overcome cultural taboos. Finally, spread the word. Spread the awareness. We owe it to the next generation. With the knowledge that our children know the basic facts to safeguard themselves, we can at least hope to hold our heads high once again. With the economic growth… more tourism… increased salaries… limited family lifeâ€¦ more luxury lifeâ€¦ money being spent for temporary pleasure going highâ€¦ all kind of un-social activities will be going high. It is the real form of terrorism. Let the policy maker and the party in power and the opposition party see that this is the new form of suicide bomb.
After centuries of being shoved under the carpet, the truth is out. And we, as Indians, should stop, hold our breath, drop our heads in shame, and introspect. In the fight against trafficking government organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society, pressure groups, international bodies, all have to play an important role. Law cannot be the only instrument to take care of all problems.
A statement from The Declaration and the Agenda for Action from the First World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm, 1996
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