Tourism’s dark side: Child sexual abuse in Turkey
International Children’s Care (ICC) has conducted a research report with the contribution of local and international NGOs, like Hacettepe University, ECPAT International and ECPAT Netherlands, on the sexual exploitation of children in the tourism and travel sector in Turkey.
I had the occasion to read the report, which was covered piecemeal by the press. The research reveals that children are being sexually abused in Turkey’s tourism and travel sector. It also reveals that Turkish citizens also commit these acts while traveling abroad.
The involvement of Turks going to Eastern Europe in incidents of child sexual abuse is on the rise.
For instance, those going from Turkey to Moldova sexually abuse children in apartments that are rented specially for weekend getaways.
Individual or group sex tours by Turkish citizens are on the rise in Ukraine. When it comes to child sexual abuse, Turks make up the biggest foreign group in this country.
Turks are the organizers of sex tours that include women and children in Belarus, while they are the customers of sex services provided by youngsters in north Russia.
It is known that recently these types of tours were diverting to Cambodia and Uganda. In 2012 a Turkish tourist was detained in Africa for using 50 girls from Uganda for sex purposes.
This man was in front of the court in 2009 in Kenya accused of sexually abusing a 15 years old girl.
The interviews included in the research reveal important information about children who are victims of sexual abuse in the tourism and travel sector:
- Girls usually escape from their homes during the summer and go to holiday resorts. They become victim of sexual abuse. In Istanbul girls from low income families are persuaded one way or another to be employed in massage salons to be later sent to houses for prostitution.
- Antalya tops the list. Many people from around Antalya come to the city for child sex tourism. Most of the victims are girls. Their ages vary from 15-17 but there are also younger ones too.
- There are Arabs that are involved in group sex with children.
- In the summer there are regions where foreign girls are made to wear adult outfits and asked to put make up on to make them look older. Refugee children or girls coming from the east of the country are victims of sexual abuse in all seasons.
- Foreign girls are tricked via social media sites and brought to holiday centers like Antalya, İzmir, Kuşadası and Pamukkale. You can come across girls between the ages of 15-18 from Slovenia, Serbia, Slovakia, Russia and Finland.
- There are agencies that are organizing tours for foreign girls. They are employed in the massage salons of hotels. The price in Antalya is around 400 Turkish Liras. There are some children who earn 9,000 liras a month. Yet sometimes their money is seized and they are forced to work without payment.