Sex Tourism: "Real sex with real girls, all for real cheap"

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IMPORTANT: This archived action campaign has been completed or discontinued, and the information contained in it may not be current. Please see Take Action for current and ongoing campaigns.
Date: 
1 Dec 1996

R&R FOR SINGLE MEN
Meet beautiful, playful Filipinas
$3 information packet includes wet T-shirt photo sheet

The above quotation is from a brochure for PVS Publications of Santa Monica, California, advertising a travel guide for single men entitled A Gentleman's Guide - The Erotic Women of Southeast Asia. The above advertisement for Big Apple Oriental Tours, located in Bellerose, New York, appeared in Soldier of Fortune. Big Apple Oriental Tours also advertises in publications such as Asia File, a newsletter claiming to be the "most up-to-date inside information on sex travel." Asia File, in addition to carrying advertisements from sex tour operators, serves as a clearinghouse for information on Asian sex tourism. Crudely written articles concern the availability, cost and dangers of sex in various Asian cities and provide descriptions of individual prostitutes and the sex acts they perform.

What sex tourism really means to the "real girls" is reflected in Poppy's words, captured by Ron O'Grady in his book, The Child and the Tourist:

I found myself dancing at a club at the age of 11... I have had different kinds of customers, foreigners and Filipinos. I tried suicide but it didn't work so I turned to drugs. I want to die before my next birthday.

In its brochure Big Apple Oriental Tours advertises that for $2,195 it will provide round trip transportation, twelve nights in the Philippines, and the ability of the traveller to "select your companion upon arrival in Angeles City." The brochure further advertises that "you are not obligated to remain with the same companion. You may select a different companion at any time during your stay." In response to inquiries for further information, owner Norman Barabash provides the names and phone numbers of individuals who have previously travelled with Big Apple Oriental Tours and he invites the prospective traveller to sample his video collection which he characterizes as "an Encyclopedia Britannica of raunch". The Big Apple Oriental Tours list of pornographic movies for sale includes descriptions such as "unbelievable scenes of lewdness and debauchery" and "the finalists get even with the funniest gang rape on video".

Conversations with Mr. Barabash and previous Big Apple Oriental Tours travellers more explicitly detail what occurs on a sex tour. The traveller is met at the airport by a car or bus which takes him to Angeles City. There he is met by the Big Apple Oriental Tours representative in the Philippines. This representative accompanies the traveller to numerous bars in Angeles City. The traveller selects a girl or woman from among those working in the bars, and the Big Apple Oriental Tours representative negotiates the transaction with her "mamasan" (the business manager). The cost of prostitution, called a "barfine," is currently 600 pisos (US $24). The mamasan checks with the traveller in the morning to ensure that the woman was "satisfactory".

Big Apple Oriental Tours is not the only American operator of sex tours to Asia. According to Business Week more than 25 companies offer such tours. These include Bushwhackers in Las Vegas, Nevada, G&F Tours in Miami Beach, Florida, and Philippine Adventure Tours in Ventura, California. Pornographic magazines such as Oriental Women and Asian Beauties include columns on sex travel to Asia and advertisements from sex tour operators. The brochure of PVS Publications, referred to above, states that "the hookers of Asia are very different from their Western counterparts" and recounts the story of a Filipino prostitute who washed the dirty laundry in the hotel room with her bare hands. The brochure asks, "Had enough of the American bitches who won't give you the time of day and only are interested in your bank account? In Asia you'll meet girls who will treat you with respect and appreciation, unlike their American counterparts."

Trafficking in girls and women is an international multi-billion dollar industry. In both the Philippines and Thailand, primary sex tourism destinations, prostitution is illegal. Some countries from which sex tourism originates, including Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States, have passed legislation which criminalizes sex tourism, but such laws apply only to travel for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors. In the United States, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 makes travel with intent to engage in any sexual act with a juvenile punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment. To date there have been no prosecutions under this law.

The United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, adopted in 1949, characterizes prostitution as "incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person." Under the Convention, governments are obligated to punish any person who "exploits the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of that person." The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women obligates governments to "take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women."

In the United States, prostitution is illegal in almost every state. In New York, where Big Apple Oriental Tours is located, New York State Penal Law Section 230.25 provides that "a person is guilty of promoting prostitution in the third degree when he knowingly advances or profits from prostitution by managing, supervising, controlling or owning...a prostitution business or enterprise involving prostitution activity by two or more prostitutes...." Promoting prostitution in the third degree is a class D felony. Section 230.20 provides that to knowingly advance or profit from prostitution is a class A misdemeanor.

What You Can Do: 

Write to the United States and New York State officials listed below and ask them to take action to stop sex tourism, including the investigation and prosecution of sex tourism agencies. Call on the New York officials to prosecute Norman Barabash, owner of Big Apple Oriental Tours, a business enterprise in New York involving prostitution activity. Suggest that immediate action will signal a commitment to end the degrading and exploitative practice of sex tourism which is destroying the lives of so many girls and women. Bring information on Big Apple Oriental Tours and sex tourism to the attention of the media. Ask them to expose this systematic exploitation of girls and women, and governmental indifference to sex tourism, as a flagrant violation of national and international law.

Mr. Richard Brown
Queens District Attorney
125-01 Queens Boulevard
Kew Gardens
New York, NY 11415
Fax: 718-286-6350

Mr. Dennis Vacco
New York Attorney General
120 Broadway
New York, NY 10271
Fax: 212-416-8942

The Honorable Janet Reno
Attorney General
Department of Justice
Tenth and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530
Fax: 202-514-3296