PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM SEX TOURISM

With  Rohey Jadama

PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM SEX TOURISM

Hello and welcome to yet another edition of Children’s Corner. In today’s edition, we are going to feature Child Sex Tourism. Child Sex Tourism is a serious violation of children’s rights. Whether you are a traveler or a tourist, employee in the tourism industry or simply a concerned individual, there are steps you can take to combat Child Sex Tourism. Unless everyone takes an active stance against child sex tourism, children will continue to be victims of sexual exploitation by tourists. You can support efforts to fight sexual abuse and exploitation of children by reporting it to the concerned authorities.

 What is Child sex Tourism? Child sex tourism is an act of travelling from one’s home (domestic traveler) or country in order to have sexual contact with children.

Tourism is very important foreign exchange earner and big employer. It attracts foreign investment and helps fund infrastructure development. Unfortunately, some people use tourism to exploit children. Theses kinds of people should be punished by the law. Destination Gambia has no place for such travelers and visitors.

Who Sexually Exploit Children in Tourism? Child sex tourist come from all walks of life: they may be married or single, male or female, wealthy tourists or budget or budget travelers. They use ‘grooming process to befriend a vulnerable child or obtains his or her trust before the sexual exploitation takes place. Sometimes they purchase the sexual services of the child directly from a third party.

What Myths Do Sex Exploiters Hold?  There are many myths that people use to justify child sex tourism. Some people believe that by paying a child for sex they are helping them because the money will help their family. The fact is most children never see the money because it goes to pimps and brothel owners.

Many people also believe that it is safer to have sex with children because they are unlikely to be HIV-positive. Others believe that sex with a child cures HIV. These are dangerous myths and susceptibility to HIV and other STIs. In fact, children’s powerlessness makes them unable to even negotiate for safer sex. It is also believed that child prostitution is acceptable in other countries and cultures. The truth is that no country, culture and religion accept the sexual abuse and exploitation of its children.

What are the Effects of Sexually Exploitation on Children: Child victims of sex tourism experience severe emotional, psychological and physical consequences as a result of their exploitation. Some have their health, well-being and future opportunities all jeopardized while others become infected with sexually transmitted infections(STIs), including HIV/AIDS.

Laws of the Gambia against Child Sex Tourism: The Gambia has tough laws against the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. They include the tourism offences Act 2003 as amended, Children’s Act 2005, Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 and the Sexual Offences Act 2013.

Other countries also have extraterritorial laws against Child sex tourism. These laws make it illegal for their citizens to travel abroad and engage in sexual acts with children. They can be prosecuted and imprisoned if found guilty.

What to Report:

*If you know a visitor/tourist who is sexually abusing a child.

(a)   If you know that a hotel staff, tourist guide or workers in tourism industry offering, selling or trying to sell a child for sexual purposes, including prostitution.

(b)    If you know that a foreigner or local person is trying to buy the sexual services of a child.

(c)    If you know that a hotel employee, tourist guide, tour operator or travel agent is allowing, involved in, facilitating or making money from the sexual exploitation of children.

If you Suspect Abuse: find out as much information as possible about alleged child sex tourist. As a minimum, please provide name, date(s) and location of abuse, where the person is staying or residing, description of perpetration, description of child/mane of child if possible, and country of origin/nationality, if non-Gambian.

Promote Responsible Tourism

*Provide information to employees and visitors about the laws of the Gambia against child sex tourism.

*Have a child protection policy in place which clearly prohibits child sex tourism. Inform and educate all your employees and business partners, including contractors, about the policy.

*Train your employees to know how to properly handle potential situation when faced with.

*Have a clear, very well known and straightforward procedure for reporting suspected cases of child sex tourism. This should be known to all employees and visitors.

*Do not make your employees suffer adversely for reporting.

Source Child Protection Alliance (CPA)