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Child Sex Tourism Laws: Issues To Consider


Extra-territoriality is the provision that opens the way for citizens of a country to be prosecuted at home for crimes committed abroad. This can be crucial in clamping down on the problem of child-sex tourism because countries where child sex is said to be rampant are often plagued by corruption, lax policing and the child-sex tourist's short stay. These factors make it hard for the offender to get nabbed.

An extra-territorial law, therefore, allows for a child-sex tourist who gets away with kris act in the destination country to be charged for it bade home. Some even recommend that extraterritorial laws be applied not only to nationals but also to residents of a country and legal entities like firms that organise or encourage child sex tourism.

Double Criminality

Double criminality is the requirement in some countries' laws which demands that the offence in question has to be a crime in both the countries for prosecution to take place. So if a citizen of country X, where double criminality is part of legislation, sexually abuses a child in country Y, ire cannot be prosecuted in country X unless the act is criminal in country Y as well.

According to Dr Mohamed Mattar of the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, removing double criminality smoothes the progress of prosecution of a child-sex tourist in his home country since he cannot raise the defence that his acts were legal in the country they took place.

He cited Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands as examples of countries where double criminality is applied. In Sweden, the penalty for the crime also cannot exceed the maximum penalty for it in the country the crime was committed.

Age Of Consent

The legal age of consent varies among countries, which can make it hard to prosecute sex tourists, especially if the age of consent is lower in the country where the offence is committed. In the United States and Japan, the age of consent conforms to that called for by Unicef's Convention on the Rights of the Child-18. In Australia, it is 16, and in Sweden, 15.

Victim, Witness Testimony

Australia, the ITS and Sweden have special testimony provisions for child witnesses. Australia allows for testimony via closed-circuit television. While it is not explicitly stated in the US Protect Act, sex-abuse victims have been allowed to testify via closed-circuit television. Swedish law allows the child's video-recorded testimony-taken in the home country-to be used in court. Germany is also exploring W video technology as an option.

Length Of Jail Term

Sentences against child-sex tourists should be severe enough to serve as deterrents. The US' Protect Act of 2003 doubled maximum jail time from 15 to 30 years. A yeas ago, John Seljan, 86, was handed down a 20-year jail teen. Against his name, he had six convictions for molestation, including the rape of two girls under 12; he also had in his possession child pornography acrd had tried travelling overseas specifically for child sex.

In Australia, the law provides for a maximum jail term of 17 years, according to its Crimes (Child Sex Tourism) Amendment Act 1994. Japan is relatively lenient-at three years. In a study of child-sex tourism law, author Amy Haley called for mandatory jail sentences for child-sex tourists, saying that fines alone were not enough. When coupled with prison time, the fines could compensate the victims, she said.

Film Gives Them 'Added Thrills'

Some men go to online websites to view "up-skirt" pictures. But some prefer to take the photos and videos themselves for an extra bit of thrill. Dr Brian, a consultant psychiatrist, pointed out that do-it-yourself videos would give the film-maker the opportunity to link the video to pictures of the persons they have met. These give the "added thrills" that do not come from just looking at pictures other people have taken, he added.

Dr Brian commented that the behavior would be a problem if it became the person's "sole and preferred means of deriving sexual pleasure". Such a person spends all his time planning how to get the images and thinking of where to store them, and "it becomes so important to him that he doesn't care about his family or career and doesn't engage in sexual activities with his partner". Dr Danny, clinical psychologist, said this behavior was a type of voyeurism, which would arouse the person. But he said that while filming up women's skirts might be deemed abnormal, there was little or no risk of the person going on to more serious crimes.


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