SEXUAL TOURISM OF MINORS IN MADAGASCAR

(2004)

On one side of the coin, Madagascar is an island paradise with its fine sandy beaches, volcanic landscapes and transparent blue waters that delight 400,000 tourists every year, the majority of whom are French, eager for rest, guaranteed sun and nature. wild. But also, another flip side, predators, more and more predators ...

Over the past fifteen years, Madagascar, a country plagued by poverty and ranked second to last the poorest country in the world by the World Bank, has become a hotspot for sex tourism. The Red Island is a paradise for some stranded men ...

 

From Antananarivo airport, posters put you in the mood and warn you: "NO to sex tourism", "children are not tourist souvenirs". However, prostitution has many faces there.

The young Malagasy "prey" are between fifteen and twenty-five years old. They are Europeans, most of them French, and represent 70% of sex tourists. They are between fifty and seventy-five years old and for less than 20 € a night, they take advantage of the misery and the hope of these very young girls who dream of finding a "Vazaha", a white and rich man who will take them away. abroad, a guarantee of a better life. A dream of many young girls in the country….

It is with this mad hope that they look at these men. They abuse it ...

 

In the streets of Tulear, a tourist town in southwestern Madagascar, in Nosy Be, in Diégo Suarez in the north, or in the bars and nightclubs of Antananarivo, the spectacle is the same. It is distressing. At the bar of this upscale hotel or on the terrace of this typical little restaurant, young girls wait for unscrupulous men who come to choose the one who will agree to spend an hour, a few days or a few nights with them. In a country where the average salary is € 60 per month, earn

€ 20 per night is a bargain.

 

They are easily spotted, these predators, by wandering the streets after dark. Landed the day before or years ago, they make arrangements with touts to find them a girl from the village. They are there, they hunt, smiling, alone or encouraged to be together with colleagues or friends, shoulders reddened by the sun from having spent the afternoon on the beach in good company… The islanders are ready to this sacrifice, the only alternative on an island which has become, over the years, a trap that cannot be left for lack of means. Sometimes they get pregnant ...

 

They evoke the shapes of their companions for a night, to their friends, in front of them and brag about it. No modesty, no complex, they do not realize what they are saying and what they are doing. They have no status, they are just there to distract them and make them forget that they are alone. Far from their wife, their children, the law.

 

So that Madagascar no longer rhymes with sex tourism, the Malagasy Police and Justice have decided to act. They sometimes go out to do identity checks. Often for the form because they control the papers of these young underage girls who buy… with the police fake identity cards which attest them as major. Not all are corrupt.

In Tana, the person in charge of the PMPM, the Police of Morals and the Protection of Minors makes muscular raids with her team on the ground. The cases are followed and the criminals punished. Elsewhere, it is a glaring lack of resources for teams or of being able to pay for gasoline for police vehicles that is lacking, so when the cats are not there ... Prosecutors, judges complain that the police do not do report cases, while the police say they are discouraged because justice is stifling cases due to corruption ...

 

The regional tourist office of Noisy Be is leading a campaign for ethical tourism and goes from hotel to hotel to educate hoteliers while distributing the charter and poster for respectful tourism. Associations are mobilized on a daily basis with the villagers or school students. The Fonkontany, special awareness-raising brigades and smaller village watch units are mobilizing and sensitizing mothers on the problem. Community networks for the protection of the rights of the child are set up to protect children from cases of trafficking and exploitation. But the truth is that children, mostly from rural areas, are trafficked for domestic servitude, forced labor and sex work that originates in the field.

 

The change will come mainly by improving the living conditions of Malagasy people and the fight against poverty.

To stop prostitution, girls should be able to find work. Sex tourism feeds on the encounter between misery and the beauty of the world. The challenge will be to reconcile economic and moral issues.

In the meantime, these young women continue to be used as sex workers, under the guise of a dream setting.

But the dream for these young girls is far away ...

Lizzie SADIN

                                                        NB: Most of the photos were taken covertly

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