Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism In Sri Lanka
7 October 2020
This has been a much-discussed topic all over the Tourism industry globally. Sri Lanka, being well among the popular tourist destinations in Asia, the topic stands out as a crucial element that requires attention of those engaged in Tourism and hospitality including the keen traveller.
Sri Lanka, being a country that depends a great deal on Tourism and Hospitality that has generated over thousands of job opportunities in the local community and the industry being the livelihood of most uneducated communities that live in poverty-stricken conditions, children become a very vulnerable target.
Much of the child prostitution in Sri Lanka occurs due to Child Sex Tourists i.e. offenders who travel for the primary purpose of exploiting vulnerable children in countries with less constructive laws; often with the use of a local intermediary. However, there are a growing number of child prostitution crimes being conducted by local travelers as well. Some estimates state that there are 40,000 child sex workers in Sri Lanka, and 5,000 – 12,000 of them being used by Child Sex Tourists.
Even though poverty, lack of education, parental care, physical & mental abuse in households have been compelling factors that has led to children entering child prostitution trade, there are children who are voluntarily engaging in it due to the lucrative nature of the industry. Sri Lankan “beach boys” is a popular term that has come into use due to the heavy child prostitution that takes place in the West, South and other coastal regions of the country.
The Child Protection Authority however, acts as the primary establishment that implements mechanisms to ensure protection of children and women. Sri Lanka also has a “National Guideline for the Management of Child Abuse and Neglect”. It is a guideline on how to take care of children who have been victimized, and who enter the legal system. However, the relevant parties that engage in Tourism in Sri Lanka, including hotels and local travel agents, it has been a strict guideline to abide by to avoid any forms of child exploitation in their daily operation. As travel agents, it would be their responsibility to firmly educate their travelers to avoid all forms of exploitation of children and to safeguard the rights of all children.
As a Travel Agent with experience expanding over 30 years, Pan Lanka Travels, the connoisseurs of the destination, also stands out as an enterprise that aims to educate all its travelers with proper knowledge of any form of malpractice in terms of child exploitation in any part of the country that they intend to visit and to ensure that all its travelers engage in activities that has no contribution of child labour. Such activities are avoided at all costs and the travelers are made aware of conniving ventures that may take place in certain touristic areas of the country.
Author : Gayathri Mohandiramge, Senior sales specialist, Pan Lanka Travels