India safe haven for child sex tourists
If Goa has become 'sex destination' for tourists, sex tourism is a problem in Kerala, says a NHRC-sponsored study.Updated: Jan 15, 2006 11:35 IST
India is slowly turning into a centre for child-sex tourists, says a path-breaking study on trafficking, while calling for a global battle against child sex.
"In India, the abuse of both male and female children by tourists has acquired serious dimensions," said the 748-page study called "Trafficking in Women and Children in India", which was sponsored by the National Human Rights Commission.
"Unlike Sri Lanka and Thailand, this problem has not been seriously tackled or discussed openly (in India) and has remained more or less shrouded in secrecy, making the likelihood of child abusers being caught and punished very low," it said.
"The silence of the community and its unwillingness to speak out and openly discuss the issue has further compounded the problem."
The study said Goa had become a sex destination for many tourists, and added that sex tourism had become a problem in Kerala too.
Detailing a case study that led to the conviction of a foreigner in Goa, it said that beach boys, shack owners and former victims of paedophiles were facilitating the procurement of boys and girls for sex.
Along with the growth of tourism in Kerala, there was increasing victimisation of children, it said.
The study quoted other investigators as saying that hoteliers in areas like Alleppy and Ernakulam promoted sex tourism "because such services bring in extra income.
"Victims are often projected by agents as college girls in search of fun and excitement or wanting to earn an extra buck."
"In places like Alleppy, foreign tourists stay in houseboats, making houseboat sex tourism a new and thriving concept. This is a safe method, as there are hardly raids on houseboats."
Enforcement agencies, the study said, "have turned a blind eye to this problem and cases have seldom been registered".
The study quoted investigators as saying that many children mentioned that they had sex with a varied range of tourists for Rs 50 to Rs 200.
"It is hard to measure the incidence of child sex tourism as it is difficult to conduct quantitative research on such a clandestine and illegal industry," the study said.
"Qualitative research and anecdotal evidence suggests that child sex tourism is growing and spreading into different regions of the world.
"There is also evidence that over the last few years, increasing numbers of sex offenders, particularly from Western countries, are shifting to less developed countries due to increasing vigilance and action against paedophilia in their own countries.
"There are fewer laws against child abuse in India and the beaches of Goa and Kovalam in Kerala are increasingly becoming the main destinations for those seeking child prostitutes."
The study, which was researched by the New Delhi-based Institute of Social Sciences and funded by USAID, calls for greater international battle against child sex tourism.
The report called for global cooperation to fight the menace of child sex tourism. This is an internationally organised crime and a global perspective and coordinated plan of action are necessary to deal with it.
"The destination countries need to enact and enforce stringent laws and punish the exploiters and their collaborators."
"Child pornography, which is closely associated with child sex tourism, is a technically advanced crime. It is necessary to set up trained and equipped police units to combat Internet based child pornography."
First Published: Jan 15, 2006 10:54 IST