According to some, paying for sex abroad is a means to escape from the #MeToo movement back home.
“The only way to fight #MeToo is to sleep with prostitutes, or save up for sex tourism,” says Mac, an online forum commentator. And he isn’t alone.
According to a recent study done by Ending the Sexual Exploitation of Children (ECPAT), sex tourism isn’t just about prostitution: Western men, apparently, particularly enjoy feeling superior in developing regions of the world.
In other words, sex tourism isn’t just about sex: it’s about power.
But what about the happy hooker narrative? That is to say, the claim that women choose prostitution of their own volition, because they enjoy or feel “empowered” through selling sex?
Few people realize how many women and girls are trafficked or coerced into prostitution, how many of them have very few viable options to earn an income.
[E]ven in countries like Germany or the Netherlands, where prostitution is completely legal, the majority of prostituted women aren’t German or Dutch, but Eastern or Central European, North African, or Slavic — in other words, women with fewer options than their Western counterparts.
Awareness is key to ending the sexual exploitation of women and girls, human trafficking, and sex tourism. Matekaire believes that #MeToo can help women all around the world, because victims’ voices are heard, survivors are sharing their experiences, and some governments are finally taking action.
She sees the new legislation being implemented in various European countries — like Northern Ireland, Ireland, and France — that treats prostitution as an issue of women’s rights, penalizing the johns instead of the women, as an example of this.
Sex tourism is a $1 billion a year industry — among the top five largest industries within the world — but profits are concentrated in the hands of pimps, hotels, tour operators, etc., not the prostituted women and girls themselves. The profit made through the sexual exploitation of children for tourism is estimated to be worth $20 billion USD per year.
It’s a billion dollar industry where men enjoy all the fun and profit, and where women and girls suffer, often with nowhere to turn for help.