The sexual exploitation of children must be one of the darkest aspects of international mass tourism. The commercial sexual abuse of children has increased in recent decades, particularly with the growth of mass tourism to poorer countries. According to estimates many millions of children world-wide have been forced into prostitution.
Tourists are quite rightly afraid of HIV/AIDS infection, and the growing demand for under-age prostitutes is in part explained by the hope of minimising infection from unprotected sex. In fact the consequence has been an escalation in the numbers of HIV infected minors in many countries. With their immune system already weakened by poverty, they are more vulnerable to infection than adults, and in addition they are more likely to suffer lesions which also make infection more probable. There are reports from some countries that more than 50% of under-age prostitutes are HIV-positive.
We provide information here about the nature of the problem in countries in Asia, North and South America, Africa and Europe.