KASAMA Vol. 12 No. 2 / April-May-June 1998 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
Mabuhay - Now Go Home!
Demonstrators at Los Angeles International Airport Target Sex Tour to the Philippines
LOS ANGELES - April 18, 1998 - "No More Perversion Excursions to the Philippines," "Sex Tours Violate Human Rights" and "Prosecute Sex Tourists and Tour Operators" were just some of the slogans represented on signs held by demonstrators tonight at the Los Angeles International Airport terminal.
Philippine Adventure Tours, a company based in Ventura, California that provides sex tours to the island nation, is the current target of a broader campaign against sex tourism by human rights groups in the United States.
The tour departs Los Angeles tonight for a 2-week stay. Upon arrival in Manila, the tourists will also be met by demonstrators from GABRIELA, one of the largest networks of women's organizations in the Philippines, holding signs such as "Mabuhay NOW GO HOME!"
New York-based Equality Now and Los Angeles-based Captive Daughters organized the demonstration to focus on the sexual exploitation of women and children abroad by American men. Other supporters participating in the demonstration include members of GABRIELA Los Angeles, N.O.W. (National Organization for Women) Los Angeles, CATW (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women), CWAME (Coalition of Women of Asia and Middle East), and LICA (Lauriane International Children Association). All groups are calling on the United States federal government as well as state Attorneys General and District Attorneys to use existing legislation to prosecute sex tourists and sex tour operators.
According to Business Week magazine, there are at least twenty-five such tour operators in the United States. Destinations are developing countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines where women and children are desperate to support themselves or are exploited by family members and sex traffickers. The fear of contracting HIV/AIDS through unprotected sex with older prostitutes has increased the demand for virgins and young children.
A Philippine Adventure Tour will cost US$1,645 for a package including round trip airfare, hotel accommodation and guided tours to bars where the customer can purchase sex. Tour owner and operator Allan Gaynor promises that customers "never sleep alone on this tour" and recommends having sex with a different girl every day, "two if you can handle it".
"It is outrageous that men from the United States are travelling to places like the Philippines on sex tours and behaving in ways they wouldn't dare at home," said Ken Franzblau, Executive Director of Equality Now. "They should be prosecuted and jailed if that's what it takes to make them stop."
Captive Daughters, dedicated to ending the sex trafficking of girls, is supporting the efforts of Equality Now. "Sex tours are just one of the ways that Americans help create the demand for 'commoditized' and trafficked women and children in other parts of the world. We must take responsibility for our role in this global network of exploitation and abuse," said Sandra Hunnicutt, Executive Director of the organization.
Groups supporting this demonstration have grave concerns that many of the prostituted women in destination countries are under 18. The 1994 Child Sex Abuse Prevention Act makes it a felony for US citizens to travel to another country for the purpose of engaging in sex with persons under 18 years of age.
In response, Norman Barabash, owner of Big Apple Oriental Tours of Bellerose NY, is quoted as saying: "There's no way of knowing for certain. Short of giving women lie detector tests, who can tell their age?" Annalisa Enrile, coordinator of GABRIELA Los Angeles points out: "Al Gaynor accepts referrals from Norman Barabash." According to Equality Now, the Philippine Government has banned him from entering the country. And, Equality Now has made significant progress in their campaign to investigate, expose and, hopefully, achieve prosecution of Norman Barabash.
Captive Daughters is running a letter-writing and petition campaign to lobby the heads of SAARC (South Asian Alliance for Regional Cooperation) to prioritize the issue of girl-trafficking since the 1990s has been declared as the "SAARC Decade of the Girl Child". The petition is enclosed with this issue of Kasama.
For more information write to: Captive Daughters, 10410 Palms Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 or email to: email@example.com