With a significant increase in global travel, impoverished young girls and boys in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and other third world countries, are the innocent victims of men and women who prey upon them, leaving their upstanding lives behind to indulge in their perversions.
ECPAT International, a non-governmental organization that stands against the sexual exploitation of children, released a report last week that reports that Canada and the United States, traditionally countries where abusers come from, are now becoming destination countries for sexual offenders.
Montreal is said to be a “hotspot” for child sex tourism, a fact attributable to its close proximity to the US border, and its reputation for year-round festivals and events. Other Canadian locations include those that are close to transportation hubs, convention centres, and remote work places, like the oil sands in northern Alberta. Sex entrepreneurs are in the business of providing children to welcoming customers, an avocation exacerbated by the internet.
But no longer is the sex tourist a white, western, wealthy, middle-aged male pedophile who plans a trip for the purpose of child sexual encounters. Now the majority are “situational” offenders, local or domestic travellers who find themselves presented with an opportunity to engage in child sex, and take advantage of it. The report indicates that the abusers are business travellers, migrant workers, and people who volunteer to help the afflicted in third-world countries.
A prime example of the latter category is Matthew Andrew Carter, a Floridian senior who travelled annually to Haiti where he established a group home for poor, orphaned children, called Morning Star. Florida’s Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman described Carter’s criminal modus operandi:
“For 15 years, Matthew Carter, under the guise of serving as an international humanitarian, sexually abused more than 50 Haitian children..He held himself out as a savior to vulnerable children in Haiti, but in fact cruelly forced those children to choose between poverty and submitting to repeated sexual abuse…”
Testimony at the trial came from 16 young victims who described how they were forced to exchange sexual acts for food, school tuition monies, and permission to live at Morning Star.
Carter was a repeat offender having been tried, but acquitted in Egypt, England, and the United States. However, this time justice was not elusive. He was sentenced to 165 years in prison.
The only way this desperate international problem can be successfully tackled is for governments, private business, and non-governmental agencies to band together to condemn and eliminate child exploitation. Canadians have been assisted by the Harper government’s enactment of stiff child sexual abuse laws. But more must be done…
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang