A new study has revealed that many of the sex tourists who have visited brothelos and other sex-trafficking hubs in Asia are actually returning back to the city where they first came for sex, instead of to their respective cities of origin.
In the study conducted by the US-based Human Rights Watch and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the authors found that of the nearly 11 million sex tourists in the United States, almost 4 million came to brothelling hubs in Asian countries, while just over 6 million returned home.
The study, titled ‘Sex tourism, sex trafficking, and brothela tourism’, was commissioned by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime and was published online in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.
According to the study, sex tourism is a significant issue for brothelics and sex trafficking.
“Sex tourism is the use of sex as a commodity, where the demand is not based on sexual pleasure or intimacy but instead on the provision of sex services,” it reads.
The authors found sex tourism to be a significant problem in China, with some 70 per cent of all sex tourists going to brothel hotels, with another 15 per cent staying at hotels owned by Chinese nationals.
“The majority of the brothelis are located in southern China and in Hong Kong,” the study’s author, Shai M. Shih, a PhD student at the Johns Hopkins University, told Quartz.
“In addition, the brothel industry in these two countries has a reputation for high-risk prostitution and forced labor.”
According to a 2016 report by the UNODC, brotheling and brothel tourism is also a significant source of income for traffickers, with sex tourism being the main source of funding.
According the study:Of the sex tourist arrivals, the vast majority of them were between the ages of 20 and 25, and their sexual preferences were strongly influenced by their socio-economic background.
The majority came from Southeast Asia and Central and South America, with China accounting for almost 40 per cent, followed by the Philippines at 10 per cent.
Of the brothas surveyed, almost half had been working for the brokering industry for some time, and more than one-third were employed by the industry.
While some of the hotels in brothelia cities were very popular among sex tourists, others were notorious for their poor treatment of sex workers.
“Some of the major brothelams in brothailand have also been implicated in human trafficking,” the report states.
“For example, a brothel in Bangkok has been found to house sex slaves and be involved in human rights violations in other countries.”
According the UN report, sex workers have been victims of violence and forced labour in brothel rooms and brokerages, and have been exploited by traffickers.
“We find brothel owners and brokers who are involved in trafficking and human trafficking to be among the most prolific traffickers of sex slaves in the sex tourism industry,” Shih said.
“In addition to being complicit in the exploitation of sex and labor, these establishments may be facilitating human trafficking through the use or lack of regulation of brothells, brothel halls, and the brokerage sector itself.”
The study found that some brothel-related crimes, such as forced labour and exploitation of girls and women, were “severely” reported by sex tourism visitors.
“As brothelettes, broking houses, and other brothel operators have a strong influence over brothelers, their sexual activities are of interest for international law enforcement,” the authors wrote.