Child sex tourism

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Child sex tourism (CST), unrelated to Adult sex tourism (AST) is travel to engage in commercial sexual abuse of children. In an effort to counteract CST, many governments have enacted laws to allow prosecution of its citizens, for child abuse that occurs outside of their home country. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry believed to victimize as many as 2 million children around the world.[1]

Global response
Over the recent years there has been an increase in the prosecution of child sex tourism offenses. At least 32 countries have extraterritorial laws that allow their citizens to be prosecuted for CST crimes committed whilst abroad. In response to CST, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the tourism industry, and governments have begun to address the issue. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) established a task force to combat CST. The WTO, the NGO, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes)and Nordic tour operators created a global Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism in 1999. As of June 2005, 200 travel companies from 21 countries had signed the code.[2]
Some governments have taken steps to combat child sex tourism:
Brazil: Brazil implemented a national awareness campaign on sex tourism.
France: France’s Ministry of Education and travel industry representatives, developed guidelines on CST for tourism schools and state-owned Air France allocates a portion of in-flight toy sales to fund CST awareness programs.
Gambia: The Gambia has created a hotline to which visitors can call to provide information to authorities on sex tourists.
India: In India’s Goa state, film developers must report obscene depictions of children to police.
Italy: Italy requires tour operators to provide brochures in ticket jackets to travelers regarding its law on child sex offenses both within the country and abroad.
Senegal: Senegal has established a special anti-CST unit within the national police force with offices in two popular tourist destinations.
Thailand: Thailand is providing victims with shelter and essential services.

Child sex abuse penalties
A growing number of countries worldwide (and the list following is not exclusive) have legislation that prosecutes tourists in their homeland should they engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with children.

Tourists from the USA
Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.[3] Before congressional passage of the Protect Act of 2003, prosecutors had to prove that sex tourists went abroad with the intent of molesting children — something almost impossible to demonstrate. The Protect Act shifted the burden, making predators liable for the act itself. Penalties were doubled from 15 years in prison to 30. [4]

Tourists from the United Kingdom
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 enables British citizens and residents who commit sexual offences against children overseas to be prosecuted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.[5] [6]. Similar provisions are in force in Scotland under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 [7]. Some of the offences carry penalties of up to life imprisonment and anyone found guilty will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The UK police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Interpol are actively involved in monitoring child sex tourists and do prosecute where necessary.

Tourists from Australia
Australia was one of the first countries to introduce laws that provide for jail terms for its citizens and residents who engage in sexual activity with children in foreign countries. The laws are contained in the Crimes (Child Sex Tourism) Amendment Act 1994 that came into force on 5 July 1994.[8] The law also makes it an offence to encourage, benefit or profit from any activity that promotes sexual activity with children. It applies to individuals, companies, or corporations and provides for a term of up to 17 years imprisonment and fines of up to $500,000.

Tourists from Canada
Canada has included in its Criminal Code provisions that allow for the arrest and prosecution of Canadians in Canada for offences committed in foreign countries related to child sex tourism, such as child prostitution, as well as for child sexual exploitation offences, such as indecent acts, child pornography and incest (Bills C-27 and C-15A that came into force on May 26, 1997, and July 23, 2002, respectively).[9] Convictions carry a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.
  1. Janet Bagnall. “Sex trade blights the lives of 2 million children; Canada is not doing enough to fight the international scourge of sex tourism”, Montreal Gazette.
  2. No More Pedophile Tourists“. The Washington Post (2007).
  3. Sexual Offences Act 2003, section 72
  4. Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, section 16B

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