Sex Tourism

 
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“Sex tourism” is defined as travel planned specifically for the purpose of sex, generally to a country where sex work is legal.

Be Aware

Disease

HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be common among sex workers. Some common STIs, such as gonorrhea, have become extensively drug-resistant in some parts of the world. Make sure you ALWAYS use protection when having sex with a new partner.

Legality

Sex tourism supports human trafficking (slavery), one of the largest criminal industries in the world. Even if prostitution is legal in a country, human trafficking, sex with a minor, and child pornography are ALWAYS crimes. Millions of children around the world are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Children abused by sex tourists suffer not only sexual abuse but also physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, as well as poverty and homelessness. They suffer from health problems including addiction, malnourishment, injuries, STIs and emotional trauma.

Someone who engages in these activities in a foreign country can be prosecuted under that county’s law while abroad and under US law after returning to the United States.

Although the age at which someone is considered a minor may vary by country, federal law makes it a crime for US residents to engage in sexual or pornographic activities with a child younger than 18 years anywhere in the world. It is also illegal to travel abroad for the purpose of having sex with a minor.

How to Prevent Trafficking

To combat trafficking and child sexual abuse, some international hotels and other tourism services have voluntarily adopted a code of conduct that includes training for employees and reporting of suspicious activities. Tourist establishments supporting this initiative to protect children from sex tourism are listed online. Providers and travelers who suspect child sexual exploitation or other trafficking activities occurring overseas can report tips anonymously by:

In the United States, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline collects reports of child prostitution and other crimes against children (toll-free at 800-843-5678).

Since 2003, when Congress passed the PROTECT Act, at least 8,000 Americans have been arrested. The PROTECT Act strengthens the US government’s ability to prosecute and punish crimes related to sex tourism, including incarceration of up to 30 years for acts committed at home or abroad. Cooperation of the host country is required to open an investigation of criminal activity. For more ways you can help, see the Department of State list of 15 ways to fight human trafficking.

In the United States, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline collects reports of child prostitution and other crimes against children (toll-free at 800-843-5678).

Since 2003, when Congress passed the PROTECT Act, at least 8,000 Americans have been arrested. The PROTECT Act strengthens the US government’s ability to prosecute and punish crimes related to sex tourism, including incarceration of up to 30 years for acts committed at home or abroad. Cooperation of the host country is required to open an investigation of criminal activity. For more ways you can help, see the Department of State list of 15 ways to fight human trafficking.

More Information

Yellow Book: Sex & Travel

Traveler Factsheet: STDs