It’s almost summer time and many of us are starting to look for an holiday destination in order to relax.
It’s difficult to associate this period of lightheartedness with something negative, you will think. We cannot, however, fail to remember a horrific reality that takes place annually just in this period.
According to Ecpat – End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism, three million people travel for sex tourism every year. About 250 thousand are looking for underage victims and most of the departures, 80 thousand a year, take place from Italy. 90% are men, aged 20 to 40.
The most popular destinations are Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Thailand and Cambodia remain the most desired destinations for Asian sex tourism. More recently, some African and Eastern European countries have also been added to the list of preferences.
Strangely, according to the study by Ecpat, peadophilia has nothing to do with this destruction. Only 5% of the exploiters of underage prostitutes recognise themselves as pedophiles. The other 95% are only looking for a transgressive experience, whether they are a regular or occasional customer. So they don’t think it’s a crime!
We at Steadfast are keen to remember that our legal system (Penal Code, art. 600 bis) punishes with imprisonment from six to twelve years and with a fine from 15,000 to 150,000 euros for anyone who recruits, induces, exploits or promotes child prostitution and that the exploiter is also criminally punishable by the laws of the country in which he committed the crime.
But what’s behind all this? Certainly extreme poverty and the exploitation of it by organized crime.
Let’s think, for example, of the sad Cambodian reality. A disastrous situation in the country followed the period of the Khmer Rouge dictatorship. Poverty, the harsh mental consequences for the violence suffered have even led to totally considering violence against minors as routine.
Very young boys and girls, sometimes orphans, were recovered from the street or sold by their parents for a handful of money. Tourism has subsequently increased this vile trade in fragile human lives.
Although from 2008 to 2010 the Cambodian government has passed rules to limit the phenomenon that was becoming of frightening proportions, the country is still a destination for child sex tourism. Especially in Phnom Penh, the capital, it is not unusual to see young teenagers sitting waiting in front of the crimbling White Bulding for their horrible customers.
Emmanuele Di Leo