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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 96 (Suppl.), December 2004






Rev. Father Shay CULLEN, MSSC,

President of the Preda Foundation, 



Tourism can bring great benefits to countries, but unfortunately there are also severe and troubling negative effects of the dark side of tourism. That is the side exploited by those without respect and concern for the well-being of the human person. It exploits workers and migrants and allows the sexual exploitation of women and children to coexist with traditional forms of tourism. It is damaging the normal tourist industry in many developing countries.

The Sixth World Conference on the Pastoral Care of Tourism in Bangkok, Thailand, has specially stated that the selection of this country was to direct the attention of the conference deliberations to those countries receiving tourists and indicating situations that require urgent pastoral attention.

For this reason the conference organisers say the programme of the congress also includes a round table on the economic exploitation for sexual motives caused by tourism with particular reference to children.

The congress has taken a stand imbued with deep pastoral concern for these victims of sexual trafficking, exploitation and child sexual abuse. There are other serious problems that are a direct result of this negative tourism of exploitation: HIV/AIDS, the rampant abortion and killing of the unborn, the slavery of children and the erosion of moral values and respect for the human person. In society as a whole, sex tourism spreads corruption among law enforcement and immigration and other high officials. The permits and licenses of the entertainment establishments, that are fronts for the enslavement and prostitution of women and minors, are issued by unscrupulous officials. Some are owners themselves.

Globalisation has thrown open the borders of many nations not only to the transit of goods and products but people too. Human trafficking and smuggling for exploitation is rampant, and the traditional controls and checks on the transit of persons that once held in check the trafficking of people are being dismantled. The pursuit of material gain, the worship of power and profit, has led to the wholesale exploitation of children. There is an estimated one million children exploited in prostitution every year. 

We must give full attention to the words of Archbishop Silvano Tomasi in his speech during the 60th session of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva last April 8 when he said that governments must join forces to combat trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. "The collection and sharing of data, including the strategies and routes used by traffickers", this would be an important move to “step up both the investigations and prosecutions" he said. There are over a million people trafficked over national borders and forced into "slave like conditions in work, sexual abuse and begging". All this contributes to a multibillion dollar criminal industry. The criminal networks must be dismantled and a clear legal protection for victims of trafficking must be assured.

Each country must provide temporary shelter for these victims’ legal assistance; immigration officials should have an open attitude to assist those who freely migrate for seeking job opportunities. This will prevent illegal smuggling of migrating people in dangerous ways. 

"In the shadowy world of their irregular status, fear and inability to stand up for their rights leave these migrants at risk of unfair treatment and of being co-opted in illegal activity" he said.

This perfectly describes the status of people trafficked into the tourist industry for sexual exploitation. They are the most vulnerable and in the greatest need.

This congress needs to help all dioceses to set up an office or desk for the pastoral care tourism and migrants, especially caring for those trafficked and enslaved women and children in the sex tourism industry. Not only should pastoral care extend to helping victims but to challenge the unjust local political structures that encourage and permit this kind of unhealthy and immoral development. The brothel industry that exploits children and sells them to local and foreign tourists has to be opposed in word and deed. 

It is pastoral care that should motivate us to question government apathy, indifference, corruption and inaction in saving the victims. They alone have the legal authority to bring about the rescue of victims in the sex tourist industry and place them in protective shelters. The pastoral refuge or shelter can provide therapy, spiritual support, empowerment, affirmation and legal protection, and later resettlement or family reintegration. 

Specific Pastoral Actions Needed

As Archbishop Tomasi said:

1. co-operation with government agencies in sharing information and taking action;  

2. encouraging compassionate treatment of victimised migrants trafficked into the tourist  sex industry;

3. end the criminalisation of the victims;

4. rescue and assist the victims to be empowered and assist in prosecutions; 

5. provide legal protection to the victims;

6. evangelise officials to be responsible and for them to cancel permits and licences and close the dens of iniquity where sex tourists exploit the children;

7. encourage law enforcement and justice departments to prosecute the traffickers and implement the law. Provide pastoral care for the victims;

8. raise the awareness and knowledge of the faithful to the problem and develop a community response with the co-ordination of the justice and peace diocesan desk.

Globalisation increases migration. According to the United Nations, 130 million people are living outside their home countries. Most of this migration occurs within and between countries in the Global South, which have the least amount of resources to assist large numbers of uprooted people. The U.S. absorbs 1.5 million immigrants and refugees each year, a small fraction of the world's migrants. Women comprise nearly half of the world's migrants and are most vulnerable to exploitation as they face discrimination in hiring and employment and are often forced to work in industries with widespread labour abuses such as the tourist industry where they suffer exploitation and abuse. The free trade in goods is also the free travelling and movement of people across borders. This assists the traffickers in their business of recruiting for the sex tourist industry. 

The Philippines has a serious trafficking problem of women and children illegally recruited into the tourist industry for sexual exploitation. Destinations within the country are Metro Manila, Angels City,Olongapo City, towns in Bulacan, Batangas, Cebu City, Davao and Cagayan de Oro City and other sex tourist resorts such as Puerto Galero, which is notorious, Pagsanjan, Laguna, San Fernando Pampanga, and many beach resorts throughout the country. The promise of recruiters offers women and children attractive jobs in the country or abroad, and instead they are coerced and forced and controlled into the sex industry for tourists. They go to the Middle East, South Africa, America, Korea, Japan, Europe, and North America. The mail-order bride business is another form of tourist destination trafficking. Fake marriages are a common form of trafficking with legitimate papers. 

The non-implementation of laws against trafficking and the recruitment into the tourist industry for sexual exploitation is the most serious setback for the Philippine Government. They have been placed on the watch list of the US State Department for offenders and could face sanctions if the situation persists as it is.

There are an estimated 60,000 children in tourist related prostitution, and this is increasing with the growth of poverty and the greater concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. The majority of tourist arrivals in the Philippines are single males, approximately 1.5 million annually. 


Poverty, unemployment, underemployment, landless poor and armed conflict combine to deny many children and their families in rural areas in the Philippines a secure future. These areas include the Samar-Leyte region, Negros, Bicol, Cebu Province, and Mindanao, where unscrupulous recruitment agencies operate by using a combination of deception, false promises and cash incentives to win over the parents or the children directly. (Source: Attacking Child Labour in the Philippines - International Labour Office [ILO], published in the Child Workers of Asia, April-September 1999).

Groups are "subverting" the Internet to traffic women and children, and ease of travel has enabled pedophiles to move from one country to another, said Paul Higdon, director of Interpol liaison and criminal intelligence directorate, based in Lyon, France, during the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific conference on crime held in Manila, 1998.

The Internet is the main recruitment tool for the sex tourist industry to bring in rich western tourists to the impoverished South. It is the advertising arm of this sex industry. In the 

Angles City, live video cam was beamed live over the Internet showing young children being sexually abused. The advertisement said to the world-wide audience of viewers who paid a fee to log on: “You only have to get here to get them”. Mostly foreigners are the big investors in the Philippine sex industry. Child pornography brought in by tourists teach local children about the sex acts that can be done to the tourists. The children are used to sell souvenirs and trinkets along the beaches to the tourists, who then invite them to show them child porn videos and give them money to repeat the acts on them. Puerto Galera is know for this where 25t children were abused in this way recently. 

United States of America

Americans make up 25 percent of the world's global sex industry, which involves about two million children.

Americans represent about 80 percent of the sex tourists in Costa Rica, and about 38 percent in Cambodia.

These despite the enactment of the Protect Act, a legislation making it illegal for US citizens to travel abroad and engage in sex with a minor. Conviction under the law could lead to a 30-year prison sentence. 

Michael Lewis Clark was the first American convicted under the child-sex tourism provision of the Protect Act. He pleaded guilty in a Seattle federal district court to two counts of engaging in sex with a minor. Clark was arrested in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after authorities there learned he was paying young boys as little as $2 for sex. Clark may have molested as many as 50 children during several years of travelling back and forth to Cambodia, according to the investigation conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security. Four other Americans have also been charged under the act.

The UNICEF, the World Tourism Organisation, and ECPAT-USA have launched a campaign “Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children From Sexual Commercial Exploitation in Travel and Tourism” designed to create a more responsible tourism industry, one vigilant against child exploitation. Its signatories commit to helping identify - and more importantly - report potential abusers.

Fifty companies have signed on to the code, but so far only one from the US, Carlson Companies Inc., has agreed to participate. 


Anecdotal evidence suggests that increasingly African children are being brought into the United Kingdom as sources of cheap labour to work in the home and look after children. Children are brought in either by individuals or syndicates using false travel documents. They work long hours, are badly remunerated and are denied the chances of going to school. They are also prone to emotional, mental and physical abuse.

According to the Ministry of Tourism in Madagascar, 25 percent of the commercial sex workers in Tulear, a tourist area, are children under the age of 18. In Nosy Be and Tamatave cities, 30 to 50 percent of all sex workers were children under the age of 18.

In Gambia, the government and the UNICEF revealed that sexual abuse and exploitation of children is on the rise in this West African nation that is a favourite destination for tourists from several European countries. 


- To protect children overseas, Australia has enacted The Crimes (Child Sex Tourism) Amendment Act 1994. It is a crime for Australians to engage in or benefit from sexual activity with children (under 16 years of age) whilst overseas. This law carries penalties of up to 17 years imprisonment, and up to $561,000 in fines for companies. 

- Child Wise-ECPAT Australia launched in December 2003 a campaign against sex tourism called 'Don't Let Child Abuse Travel.' Since this time, the Australian Federal Police have reported increased calls on their hotline and Child Wise has received increased reporting via e-mail and calls. Also, seven Australians have been arrested overseas with the assistance of the AFP, the traveling public and the tourism industry.

- According to Child Wise National Director Bernadette McMenamin: "Australia has a responsibility to help its neighbors in Asia fight child sex tourism. We (Australians) certainly contribute to the problem. We must help through policing and education." 

- In May 2003, David John Gillard, 57, of NSW, was sentenced in Sydney's Darlinghurst Court to 8 years imprisonment for 12 counts of indecency against children under 16 years in the Philippines. Gillard travelled to the Philippines on behalf of a Baptist Church which ran camps for Filipino children. He is the 16th Australian to be prosecuted under the Child Sex Tourism Law. 


In Cambodia, more than a dozen foreigners have been arrested on debauchery charges related to sex with minors from September 2003 to May 2004, a brief span of only eight months. Cambodian police are aiming to enlist the service of Phnom Penh's hotel and guest-house managers as informers. They would be asked to sign an agreement of co-operation with the government to prohibit sexual activities in their hotels and guest rooms.

An Australian, Clint Betterridge, was convicted in absentia by a Cambodian court in January 2003 and sentenced to 10 years in jail for the rape of a 14-year old girl and sexual offences against three other teenage girls. Back in Australia, he claimed an Australian embassy official helped him escape Cambodia and that Cambodian court officers tried to extract bribes from him in exchange for the charges against him being withdrawn.


The Chinese government has implicitly recognised in its 1995 report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child the growing problem of human trafficking after the UNICEF released a situation analysis of children and women. It has since adopted severe punishment of criminals abducting or kidnapping girls and children. This has led to positive developments such as the clearing of 209,600 cases related to prostitution where 411,700 offenders were pursued.

However, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women added in a 1997 Report: "In China, the incidence of kidnapping and selling women in rural areas has been increasing since the mid-1980s”. The report also revealed that: 

- In some countries and villages, between 30-90% of marriages result from trafficking.

- In 1989, about 5,000 Chinese girls, mostly of the Tai and Akha tribes, have been lured across the rugged Burmese mountains that separate the two countries and sold as prostitutes.

- In 1990, 13,958 women were bought and sold in Shandong province; of these, 3,966 women were freed and 1,690 individuals were arrested on charges of slave-trading.

- Between 1968 to 1988, 48,100 women from all regions of China were sold in Jiangsu province. This stems from the shortage of women in rural areas where traditional views on maintaining the family line require all sons to marry in a highly expensive manner and to provide betrothal gifts to the parents of women.

Cross-border trafficking into other regions, such as Thailand, Myanmar and Macau for the sex trade and between China and Vietnam for marriage and sex trade has become more insidious. 

- In 1994 the Peking People's Daily reported that more than 10,000 women and children are abducted and sold each year in Sichuan alone. It went on to state that more than one million prostitutes are prostituted to affluent businessmen and tourist visitors from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

- In 1995 and 1996, the Thai police and charity institutions repatriated up to a hundred girls  back to China.

- In August 1997 the Shanghai and Macau police jointly cleared a case in which the offender trafficked and forced 6 girls to be prostituted in a hotel in Macau. 

- Hong Kong is also affected by various kindsof trafficking, including exploitation and domestic service.

Laws Regarding Trafficking of Women and Children in China

With regards to China, legal measures emanate from the 1991 decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which called for action to criminalise the following: abduction for sale of women and children; kidnapping of women and children, kidnap for purposes of blackmail; purchase of abducted and kidnapped women and children; abuse of office to hinder the rescue of abducted and kidnapped women and children. This led to the adoption of a Criminal Law, Article 141, which provided for sentences against human trafficking. The sentences were increased by the new Criminal Law of 1997, which incriminates the abduction, purchase, sale and delivery of women and children.

There are other laws which target specifically the protection of women and children from abuse. For instance, the 1992 Law on the Protection of Women's Rights prohibits the abduction, trafficking and purchase of women. China's 1991 Protection of Minors Act obliges parents to stop children from engaging in prostitution. China's 1991 Adoption Act forbids the sale of children for adoptions. These were bolstered by the 1994 ministerial notice against illegal immigration for pornographic purposes and the 1996 ministerial notice to screen Chinese children from being adopted abroad.

Other laws may contribute to preventing the trap of trafficking. These include various education al laws and laws to promote livelihood. For example, in 1986 China passed a law on compulsory education (9 years) which should help to keep children out of the labor market. In 1991 regulations on child labor were issued prohibiting use of child laborers under 16 years of age.

On the policy front, in 1992 China's State Council issued its Program Outline for the Development of China's Children in the 1990s. These are coupled with the National Program of Action for Goals by the Year 2000 in regard to children, under which there are also measures to protect children against parental abuse and child labor.

Source: The Trafficking in Women and Children in the Mekong Sub-region by Vitit Muntarbhorn, Published in the Child Workers of Asia, (April-September 1999)

Germany-Czech Republic 

In Germany a social worker has identified in a report that around 500 children, girls and boys as young as 6, are being prostituted in the German-Czech border districts. They hang out at gas stations, bus stops, and supermarkets on the Czech side of the border where German sex tourists flock to buy sex. Little has been done about this because of the difficulty in getting evidence sufficient for a court as a result of the lack of co-operation between German and Czech police authorities despite the presence of the Europol.

The Europol has made Internet child pornography networks a major target of its work. Late last May 2004 acting on information that Europol intelligence analysts had gathered over many months, police in seven European countries, as well as Canada, Australia, and Peru, seized computers, videos, and pornographic pictures from nearly 50 alleged members of pedophile networks.


As early as 1992, Childwise has confirmed through a research the existence of child sex tourism in Indonesia and pedophile networks operating in Bali and other tourist destinations in Java. Since then, the Indonesian government and non-governmental organizations have recognised the commercial sexual exploitation of children as a significant issue. A National Plan Against the Commercial Exploitation of Children was formulated in mid-2002. In the wake of the Bali bombing, Childwise investigated whether the downturn in tourism led to an increase in child sex tourism due to the belief that child sex offenders are attracted to and target communities which are vulnerable because of poverty, war and other destabilising factors. The findings concluded that while there was no evidence of significant increase in child sex tourism post the Bali bombing, children and the Balinese community at large were far more vulnerable to exploitation.

In a meeting of the World Tourism Organisation in Bali in 2003, the Indonesian Minister of Tourism acknowledged that child sex tourism is a growing problem in Bali and other parts of Indonesia.

On January 5, 2004 William Stuart Brown, 51, a former Australian diplomat was arrested in Bali and charged for the abuse of two boys aged 15 and 13. Pedophile allegations had been raised against Brown when he worked at Australia's Embassy in Jakarta in 1982 and 1984. In June 2004 he committed suicide in his prison cell when sentenced to a long prison term. In a separate case, Paul Thompson, a West Australian sex offender, was also recaptured in Bali after hiding for nearly 13 years. He was convicted in 1991 for having sex with children and escaped from prison shortly after his sentence. Arrested and convicted recently, he committed suicide in prison in Cambodia. 


In Korea, 90 percent of women exploited in prostitution in camp towns near US military bases come from the Philippines or Russia. These camp town women (or Kijichon as they are known in Korea) were lured to Korea with the promise of a job or of an arranged marriage. When they arrive, they are forced into slave-like conditions. The men that do the recruiting make roughly $500-$600 per month per girl in commission, according to Durebang (My Sister's Place), a non-governmental organization in Korea assisting and supporting women living within the camp towns who have been living a life of alienation and oppression.


An estimated 16,000 child prostitutes are found in Mexican tourist destinations and border cities, according to Arizonans for the Protection of Children, and UNICEF.


An estimated 30 percent of trafficking victims from Moldova are adolescent girls trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, according to UNICEF.

South Asia (India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan)

Boys' prostitution has recently increased in several South Asian countries, as revealed in a 2003 report by ECPAT International. Areas such as the beach town of Goa in India and Negombo in Sri Lanka have become popular destinations for pedophiles looking to have sex with boys as young as 7 years-old. In Pakistan, studies revealed that the majority of victims of child prostitution are indeed boys: the act of a wealthy older man paying a young boy to live in his home for his sexual pleasure has become so common that 80% of people questioned living in the North West Frontier province knew someone in their community committing this abuse.


Former Australian diplomat Robert Michael Scoble was arrested March 2004 in Thailand in a joint operation conducted by the Royal Thai Police and Australian Federal Police. He was charged for promoting Thailand for sex tourism, child pornography, and trafficking of boys. He and his American partner were believed to have used their travel agency as a facade for their secret child-sex recruitment network. In a raid on Scoble's house, police found pornographic materials including magazines, personal photographs, video cassettes and computers disks, including more than a hundred albums of photographs of young preteen and teenage boys clothed, naked and in various explicit sexual poses.

Another child sex offender, David Leonard Arthur, was arrested in a hotel near Chiang Mai with three teenagers from Burma. He is being prosecuted by Thai authorities for obscenity and harbouring illegal immigrants. He was convicted in Queensland in 1983 and 1984 for two indecent dealings with boys, and in NSW in 1993 and 1994 for possessing child pornography and publishing indecent photographs.