Equality Now tackles sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, often called “sex tourism”, a global issue that cuts across national borders and state lines. “Sex tourists” travel to buy sex from vulnerable women, girls and other vulnerable people, often from poor and marginalized communities.
Sexual exploitation in travel and tourism has become far more complex, involving not only tourists but business travelers, migrant/transient workers, and ‘voluntourists’ intent on exploiting women, girls, and other vulnerable people, as well as large numbers of domestic travelers. ECPAT’s global study on sexual exploitation in travel and tourism confirms that offenders can come from any background and do not all fit the stereotypical profile: a white, Western, wealthy, middle-aged male pedophile. Some may be pedophiles but most are not. Both the age of the clients and the age of the victims are decreasing.
There is increasing recognition of the links between organized sexual exploitation and travel for business or leisure, including for major sporting events such as the Super Bowl.
Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism
Women, girls, and other vulnerable people are often trafficked domestically or internationally to meet demand. Equality Now was one of the first human rights organizations to recognize the link between “sex tourism” and sex trafficking, and to focus on shutting down sex tour operators.
What is Equality Now doing to end sexual exploitation in travel and tourism?
Equality Now is working with Trace Kenya and LifeBloom Services International to call for legal reform that will protect women and girls from sexual exploitation and end impunity for perpetrators. As well as working on reform of national law including the Sexual Offenses Act, the Counter Trafficking In Persons Act, and the Children Act we are also engaging with local government to promote county-level laws and policies. Through our partners, we also engage with judiciary and law enforcement to encourage them to take a more gendered, survivor-centered approach.
Our Impact: Tackling Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism