By Jeff Game 6/4/2014
A businessman is traveling for work far from his family, as he walks to a business meeting he is offered a “good time” by another man. The businessman laughs, and says he is not interested in a hooker. The man offering the girl tells him that this could be beyond his wildest dreams and that the girl is beautiful, sexy, and she is only 12 years old. This kind of exchange is how sex tourism around the world thrives, and continues to grow. These types of illegal acts are not just occurring in Bangkok, Mumbai and Mexico City, sex tourism is happening in American big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and even Middle America.
Sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business—that’s billion with a capital ‘B’ and it is growing every day. Sex tourism is an ever present and more recognizable addition to sex trafficking. The locals down the street that are running an operation are not just assaulting the young boys and girls, but they are turning them into prostitutes and sex slaves. Businessmen and casual travelers fly thousands of miles, to have sex with young girls and boys 12 years old and younger.
Accurate statistics or numbers to show the growing trend of sex tourism around the world can be hard to uncover –so much is just not reported. As of 2012, UNICEF estimates that over 30 million people are enslaved around the world, with around 300,000 being American children. Law enforcement and human rights organizations such as the International Justice Mission and Finding Freedom International are doing their best to not only raise awareness of these crimes, but ultimately to help the children get out of the sex industry they are sold into.
The World Cup, which begins in Brazil this month is one of the most exciting and most watched sporting events in the world and is truly a global event that staggers in numbers of people watching all over this planet. That is how popular soccer is in so many countries outside of the United States.
At the same time, sex tourism is a global epidemic that can plague such a celebration of sports like the World Cup, the Super Bowl or other similar events.
Money for Nothing
For Director of Counseling ministries of Finding Freedom International, Terry Ladow, the laws are still not enough to stop these crimes. Terry states, “There is some progress being made, some pressure to different parts of the world, but there is so much corruption and there are billions being made, you see how a blind eye can be turned away.” Finding Freedom have safe houses in Mexico, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and are spreading to other countries such as Nicaragua, South Africa, and Cambodia.
Finding Freedom raises awareness of sex trafficking, raises money to work with the caregivers at each safe house and also helps the girls they save accomplish dreams such as going to cosmetology school or whatever will help them feel human again, for the first time in their life.
Awake my Soul
For those at Finding Freedom like Ladow, who conduct training sessions for the Caregivers in Mexico on a regular basis, the laws are changing very slowly. Ladow adds, “If you have a girl, 10 or 11 years old, and a family can sell her for $1,000, that’s a years income for some places in the world.” Corruption is a major factor to the slow changing laws around the world.
According to the International Justice Mission, more than 2 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry around the world. The best way to fight these types of staggering numbers is to take action.
Some progress is being made, recently in San Francisco travel industry officials from around the world gathered for a global travel event that focused on abductions and the business of sex slavery. These crimes are also happening on many commercial airlines and could be right in front of any traveler. San Francisco airport was the first to start training their employees to recognize signs such as bruises, nervous children or even children that maybe drugged by their captors.
Air France was the first commercial airline in the world to start airing in flight videos on all their fleet, that make the public aware that these types of crimes could be happening on the flight they are on and be aware of any signs of a child being held under their own will. Delta Airlines will also follow and train their employees to recognize signs of human trafficking.
Straight to Hell Boys
Most of the hot spots for sex trafficking around the world are large tourist and business meeting destinations. Events, conventions, and family vacation plans are made each day to travel to these havens such as Las Vegas, Thailand, Mexico, and even New York City. There is a whole layer of crime going on, and most of America and the world may not see it happening.
Finally, with the efforts to end this abuse and slavery of children — bring the perpetrators to justice, and maybe even change laws for these children along the way — it is possible that these destinations can remain a paradise for vacationers — once the darkness of sex trafficking and sex tourism is abolished.
The world’s eyes will be on Brazil, the World Cup and all the athlete’s competing from each country in the month long tournament. There will be sex trafficking and children will be sold to men for sex during the World Cup. However, with organizations like UNICEF and others being the watchdog that so many enslaved children are in desperate need of – maybe the rest of the world can join in an eradicate this deeply damaging epidemic.