According to the Terminology guidelines for the protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism is the sexual exploitation of a child, by tourists, travelers and visitors, as nationals as foreigners.
This type of exploitation does not only occur in an international context (which implies to cross a border): children can be sexually exploited in the context of travel and tourism at a national level.
Why don’t we use the term “sex tourism”?
“Sex tourism” is frequently used as a synonym for child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. This term is shorter but inadequate.
Child sexual exploitation can not be a type of tourism. By speaking of child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, we highlight the fact that the child is victim of sexual exploitation, in the particular context of travel and tourism.
Besides, talking about child sexual exploitation in the context of travel and tourism covers the notion of “tourism”, fairly traditional, but also of “travel” (for example a business trip, a cultural exchange or a humanitarian volunteering). These situations have in common to give some anonymity (the person is out of sight of his family and his community) in a context of economic power (the person has a feeling of impunity).
Which countries are affected by this phenomenon?
Historically, child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism was known in South-East Asia. ECPAT meant by the way, at the moment of its creation, “End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism”.
The Asian tourism hotspots such as Thailand or the Philippines are still particularly known for hosting this scourge. But, since the Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for action in 1996, the world has changed: borders have opened, travel and tourism have expanded, and tourists, travellers and tourism stakeholders have multiplied.
Nowadays, therefore, all countries can be affected by the phenomenon, on all continents. Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Morocco, Madagascar and several countries from Eastern Europe are so many countries where children are victims of sexual exploitation in the context of travel and tourism.