New report addresses causes of sex tourism in Morocco
By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat – 28/12/07
The International Coalition for Responsible and Respectful Tourism published a report early this month on the resurgence of Morocco's sex tourism industry, uncovering numerous causes of the phenomenon and proposing solutions.
The report, compiled by coalition goodwill ambassador Khalid Semmouni, indicates close links between sex tourism, globalisation and the opening of borders, adding that people are attracted by what they perceived as exotic.
Poverty and exclusion are also among the causes, and have contributed to the prevalence of prostitution in Morocco.
Other causes cited by the report include the violation of children’s socio-economic rights; a lack of public education on sex and human rights, especially for children; the disintegration of family structures; domestic abuse and a lack of responsibility on the part of schools.
The report also mentioned the lenience of Morocco's legislation on child rape and the lack of a national action plan to protect children from violence.
It states that sex tourism is in violation of existing international agreements which Morocco has ratified, namely the 1949 Convention against the sexual exploitation of women, CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women) and the Convention on Child Rights.
The report also points to legal gaps and loopholes and proposes that the Penal Code be strengthened to more effectively counter the sexual abuse of women and children.
The solutions put forward include the adoption of adapted legislation to bolster children's protections, the use of media to inform the public and alert families to the dangers of prostitution and the sex trade's impact on society, and also the organisation of trainings for members of the judiciary to guarantee faster responses to young people's needs.
Semmouni told Magharebia that "this problem also exists in other Arab countries, but it is much more severe in Morocco, since this country is open to the West and also due to its geographical position." Semmouni proposed that all tourists found guilty of paedophilia in Morocco should be banned from returning. He also advocated the creation of a vice squad to monitor tourist activity from a distance and intervene where necessary.
Najat Anwar, president of the NGO "Don’t Touch My Child", told Magharebia: "We need to establish a partnership with international NGOs and authorities such as ECPAT and INTERPOL to detect, condemn and prevent harm to Moroccan children by criminal tourists who travel to our country to satisfy their desires." She added that "at the national level, our association has found that foreign paedophiles no longer enjoy the 'tourist immunity' they once had, and are just as liable to be punished as Moroccan paedophiles."
Despite far-reaching government efforts, including the creation of tourism police in Marrakesh in 1994 and the conviction of over 40 tourists for paedophilia and prostitution offences since 2001, human rights activists in the country insist that Morocco still has a long way to go to eradicate the problem.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.