The U.S. Ambassador went out his way to upset Philippines politicians with some home truths that 40% of Male tourists to the Philippines are here for sex. It was quickly disputed by the Philippines government.
US ambassador Harry Thomas told a forum of Filipino judges and officials that corrupt officials were involved in a very visible sex trade, and challenged the legal profession to eliminate the "scourge".
"We know that 40 per cent of foreign men who come to the Philippines, including from the US, come for sexual tourism. That is not something I’m proud of. That’s not something you should be proud of," Thomas said.
The interesting thing for me is how it was disputed instantly locally as this shows the fact that people don’t like being told that its on their doorstep and often ignored or exploited for personal gain. The Ambassador went on to mention about the high profile karaoke bars and clubs along Roxas Boulevard which is one of Manila’s main roads as well as being the location of the U.S. Embassy.
"Corruption allows these notorious establishments to continue to operate. Local officials will look the other way or accept favours. These officials are doubly guilty," he said without naming any specific officials. But I would go on to say why not check the deeds of ownership for the buildings as well as people may be surprised on who actually owns the leases of many buildings in the Philippines sex industry.
Thomas did however go on to praise the Philippines for its efforts in reducing human trafficking in the Philippines but stressed more needed to be done and that the U.S. would help.
"Any American caught engaged in any of these crimes or cybersex should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and we will assist (you)," Thomas said he told Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Although prostitution is illegal in the Philippines the sex trade is a major industry in many locations such as the capital Manila and its second city Cebu.
The Philippines government not impressed with Thomas’s comments were quick to downplay what was said.
"Certainly that is something we would like to dispute. We are not sure where his statistics are coming from," Tourism assistant secretary Domingo Enario said.
Tourism department spokesman Benito Bengzon also emphasised that sex tourism was not part of the government’s marketing campaign.
The Philippines has seen a rise in tourism to 3.52 million last year but often a lot of things people don’t want to discuss or be seen aren’t shown in statistics.
Now question from me is though if 40% of people are here for sex tourism does that include child abusers? also how many people are here for drugs and arms dealing? Cybersex industry? I can start to see why people abroad often think people coming to the Philippines are just here to use and abuse the women.
Now I will continue with this article on the same topic as people may not be aware that sex tourism especially for children is on the rise because of the economic downturn. Why? because more people are in poverty which is driving the price of child sex down. At the same time no doubt the “unprofessional” sex trade in countries like the Philippines has also dropped in price where I have heard prices as low as P100 for sex which in real money is less than £2.00 and before everyone starts blaming foreigners for all of this activity lets remember that corrupt officials play a huge part in letting these places operate in the first place. Poverty increases people also get more desperate which means more people are available which also means the market gets more competitive on pricing. There is also an increase in sex travel amongst people in Asia primarily from Japan
But more than the reasons above its pretty much socially acceptable within foreign and local circles, I have never seen a protest in sex areas to drive out the brothels or to disrupt the trade. I have never seen anything done to stop the trade except when it comes to underage sex. A recent newspaper article I was reading mentioned the mayor of Cebu talking about to either close down the establishments or leave them to do their business in peace if they aren’t doing anything illegal. Loop holes in the system allow Bikini bars (not brothels) to operate, you go in and find a girl you pay a “barfine” for the girl to leave work early (which is the bars commission) and then you negotiate a price for sex with the girl at a short time hotel. Now considering any girl jiggling her bits and her butt hanging out of a skimpy bikini is available for sex and will try and talk you into it as well as happy to quote an amount for sex isn’t this prostitution? In the Philippines I hear regularly how prostitution is illegal yet what is done to stop the trade?
Big venues offer girls up on a platter and entire strips of areas are littered with “Bikini bars” and everyone knows about them. At the same time heading into certain streets and areas of cities you will find the street walkers being hussled by pimps and suddenly even the cheapest of guys find they can afford a girl for the same price as a McDonalds Big Mac meal. Literally buying meat for sex is the level its dropped to.
The girls themselves are often duped into the industry promised jobs as cleaners, maids or anything else by recruiters going into provinces to areas that find people not so well educated who will take less than $60 for selling their child into work. Often you hear of children and girls being sold into the sex trade but rarely do people discuss how it works. As educating people on this is a key to breaking the cycle. Personally I would send people to villages and buy peoples kids and then go back with the children and show them slideshows and videos into what they could have sold their children into. Shame and blame is needed not play the victim all the time where no prosecutions occur.
But more importantly it needs people action as well as governmental to clean up the cities and remove these establishments completely. What if its driven underground? the thing is what difference will it make if your making no action at all? Pushing for it to be stopped completely will eventually stop things underground as things get harder and harder to operate as a business which starts to put off people arriving for sex. In the end things can be changed but it also needs the governments to start regeneration of areas as well as job creations.
Final note I don’t know where the 40% came from except for the quote from the Ambassador at the same time with the way people are in the Philippines and the fact its a booming industry he’s probably not wrong and the figure may even be higher.