Child Sex Tourism (CST) has become a growing threat to children in many countries all over the world, particularly, those which receive significant numbers of tourists, a global survey has revealed.
Barima Akwasi Amankwaah, acting National Coordinator, Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), said CST, also known as Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism (SECT), had become one of the greatest tests of an increasingly connected world and an important challenge to the ever-expanding travel and tourism industries.
Mr. Amankwah said this when he delivered the key findings and recommendations of a global study on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, during the launch of the Ghanaian version in Accra on Friday.
The study sought to strengthen evident-based advocacy and lobby action to improve child protection and further enhance knowledge on CST in Ghana to guide and promote targeted actions aimed at eliminating CST.
It further explored the response of policy and legal frameworks to CST in order to identify gaps in them.
The study was conducted in locations within three regions of Ghana-Takoradi (Western Region), Cape Coast (Central Region) and Accra (Greater Accra Region) -which have vibrant travel and tour activities.
Mr. Amankwaah, in giving the key findings of the study, said in those cities, the common manifestation of CST was prostitution saying, “the key hotspots include beach resorts, hotels, and other notable identifiable places for leisure activities.”
He noted that the perpetrators of CST included domestic and international tourists and migrant workers in fishing, construction, entertainment, mining and oil sectors, adding that males were the most perpetrators of CST.
Mr. Amankwaah said minors, both boys and girls, were involved, but girls were in the majority of those in the highest risk.
“Boys are believed to be mostly sexually exploited by international travellers from the West (mainly from the US and Europe) and Asia (mainly mentioned are China and Korea), altogether referred to as white people locally”, he said.
He said the study also found that, Ghana had enacted adequate child protection laws and policies,” however, the issue of CST is subsumed under sexual offences and not specifically captured in those laws and policies.
Mr. Amankwaah said, additionally, these were weak enforcement of child protection laws, especially, those relating to commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Giving recommendations of the study, he said, efforts must be made to empower families to be able to support their children, adding that unemployed parents especially, women should be supported to engage in sustainable economic activities through slats training and provision of capital.
He said, there was also the need to raise awareness and sensitise the issue of CST among key stakeholders such as parents and the community, adding that the donor community need to prioritise CST activities and channel resources including funding to local actors to help direct focus to combat the CST threat.
By Lawrence Markwei