Child sex tourism in Nepal
The children's rights agency, Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN) was established in Nepal in 1987 to campaign for the rights of the child and against child labour. It is financed by the European Union and Groupe Développement, an international NGO which (according to its web site) works to address the loss of resources and livelihoods of people, growing inequalities in income and access to wealth and resources, and comodification of vulnerable people and children. In December 2003 it undertook a survey of children in Nepal engaged in child sex tourism
A series of focus group discussions were held with 82 children and 15 teachers. All of the children were either slum children or street children aged between eight years and 18 years, and 12 school children, aged between 12 and 14 years.
THE REPORT'S CONCLUSIONS
Almost all the children responded that the initial contact was done at the personal level. The children came across the tourists during the course of their work usually in their work places. The tourists get in touch with the children at the personal basis, rather than through other people. Usually the tourists with whom the children have been in touch with for a period of time take an advantage of their trust.
Initially the children and tourists start off as very good friends; they go out together, they are given good food and clothes and once the trust is built up they are taken to a hotel room. The place for sexual exploitation is usually the hotel room where the tourist is staying. The smaller children of the age group 8 to 13 yrs are mostly preferred by tourists.
In the course of time when the trust was built up between them the children were taken in the hotel rooms. This interesting information about the pattern of abusers was shared by the children and people working with children. The most common pattern is that the children are asked to take a bath in the bathroom of the hotel, after a while the tourist will also come in and help the child to take a bath. In the process of cleaning the child, the tourist starts touching the child's private parts.
In some cases, once this act is started children manage to run away but in many cases, they are sexually exploited by the tourists. Many children continue to be friends with them even after that as they feel they are being loved and cared for.
Children are usually not aware of what is happening to them; they don't have any idea of what is going on. They do not feel that they are exploited; they feel that they are being loved by the tourist and are happy with the money and other things that they get from the tourist in return. Usually they share the incidents with their friends; but the parents and other adults are rarely trusted for this. Even on the occasions when they find this incident confusing and difficult to cope with; they themselves are blamed for it – so they prefer to keep it with themselves.
Most of the children said that tourists rarely use threat of any kind of force. They are usually lured by attractions ranging from food to good clothes and money. And it is because of help they get from the tourists that they do not speak a word against them. Even when they are aware of the fact that what is happening to them is not good.
The following push and pull factors were identified during the process of the study:
Lack of love and care:
The children who get very close to the tourists are usually the ones who have not received love and care from the family or other people around them. They usually have faced neglect and abuse by the people. This experience has pushed them to become attracted to the tourists.
Need for money and other basic needs:
The children are in need of money to meet their expenses. Usually because of their poor economic conditions but sometimes also because of their high living expenses which cannot be met by their earnings. These children looking for an extra earning and usually tend to approach the tourists.
Want for better life:
In some of the cases, the children's hope for the better life has pushed them to approach the tourists. They do not feel very good about the life that they are living and keep on looking for a door which would lead them to better life.
Some of the parents also were found to be encouraging the children.
Perception about tourists being wealthy:
Attraction to the tourists because of the perception that tourists have a lot of money. They also see the tourist spending a lot of money on different things and become attracted to them.
Love and care shown by the tourist:
Usually compared to locals, children have found that the tourists are more loving and caring. They talk nicely with them and behave gently with them.
Money, food and/or clothes given by the tourists:
In most of the cases, tourists give children clothes, money or food when they approach them. So they are easily attracted to the tourists.
Instances of genuine help received from tourists:
There have been a few instances where the tourists have genuinely helped the children and their family. The children have been especially helped through the admission in schools and educational sponsorship.
Children take association with the tourist as a prestige symbol. If a child has a tourist friend he gains more social reputation among his friends.
The following are the profiles of the children and adults involved in commercial sexual exploitation; as narrated in the discussion with the children. The following profiles show the perceptions of the children on these issues.
CHILD VICTIMS OF COMMERCIAL SEXUAL .EXPLOITATION IN TOURISM
Gender: both boys and girls; but boys preferred
Background: children without family; working children; children from poor families
According to the perception of the children, 32 per cent said that sexual exploitation could happen to both boys and girls; 18 per cent said that it could happen only to boys; and 10 per cent said that it could take place only with girls.
Forty per cent said they had no idea at all. Twenty-four per cent of the children said that it could take place with the children of the age group 10-14 years.
CHILD SEX EXPLOITERS
Country: European countries; Australia
Age: 35-50 on average
Gender: Both, but usually male
Background: working and usually backpackers
According to the total number of the children interviewed, 20 per cent felt that only new tourists would engage in the kinds of activities described earlier. Eighteen per cent of the children said that older tourists would engage in it.
Twenty six per cent of the children said that both male and female children could equally get engaged, 10 per cent said that only male children could be engaged and two per cent said that only female children could be engaged.
As far as economic status of the tourist is concerned 16 per cent of the children said they were rich tourists and 15 per cent said that they were backpackers who did not have much money with them.
The children reported that they 25 per cent were Europeans; 21 per cent said that they were Americans; 4 per cent South Asians and 7 per cent Japanese/ Chinese origin. Read the full report on www.village .ie