Pulse Opinion: The problem with promoting sex as a tourism product in Africa – Pulse Nigeria

While sex tourism might work in some other parts of the world, is Africa really ready to tap in?

Sex tourism is any form of travel that is inspired by or for the sake of sexual activity and contact, particularly with prostitutes.

For centuries, we have seen sex tourism exist mostly with upper-classed European and North American men travelling to different parts of the world in search of “exotic” sex, such as Asia.

Sex tourism in Bangkok [Getty Images]

A history expert on sex tourism, Professor Christopher Ewing Ph.D., is of the opinion that sex tourism in such countries lies in concepts of orientalism and colonialism. He investigates how travel has provided a means for middle- and upper-class Europeans and North Americans to realize sexual fantasies that hinge on the racialisation and exoticisation of people.

As for Africa, the issue of sex tourism does not readily comes to mind. However, more and more countries on the continent seem to be eager to score on a spot on the list.

Be careful what you wish for.

Generally, tourism in Africa is on an exponential rise. Many countries on the continent boast of enchanting culture, historical sites and/or amazing animal experiences, attracting tourists from around the world to escape to African paradise.

However, some tourists have another motive for coming to these countries.

Cast of Paradise, a 2012 film on sex tourism in Kenya [Tapatalk]

Kenya is the only African country that falls in Euro Weekly News’ list of top sex tourism countries in the world. Considering other factors — such as legalisation of prostitution — other African countries that have their sex tourism industry booming include Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Africa, Nigeria, etc.

In its bid to also place on the map, Uganda has recently named curvy, sexy women as one of its tourist attractions. To do this, the country is set to hold its first beauty pageant named ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ in June.

State Minister for Tourism with Ugandan models at the launch of ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ [Godfrey Lugaaju NMG]

The country’s Minister of Tourism told the local Newspaper that Uganda has “naturally endowed nice-looking women that are amazing to look at. Why don’t we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?” 

Basically, sex tourism in Africa hopes to take advantage of rich European and North American (mainly white) men and women, who come down to African countries in search of “sexcapades” with less-privileged young Africans, to boost our economies, without thinking of what adverse effects such a tourism boom will bring.

Recalling that most of Africa still works through many legacies of colonialism, one of the main problems is the expression of racial and economic dominance. If you think that travelling to Africa to sleep with a person-of-colour is anti-racist, you are wrong, because racially-motivated sexual desire is racist in itself.

Sex tourism is a third-world reality whether we like it or not [LA progressive]

That being said, sex tourism might work in countries like Germany where prostitution is legal and structures for parties involved have been put in place; but in a country like Nigeria, for example, where “transactional sex”, and sex generally, is still a taboo topic, women and sex workers are hardly protected by government laws, the age of consent is still sketchy, and most of all, where corruption (and neo-colonialist ideals) choke us to the point where Western tourists can get out of situation by the wave of a dollar (or the flash of their skin), I do not recommend it.

If we encourage or continue to turn a blind eye to these issues, we will not only allow many of our sores fester, but will create more.

However, this is all said while recognising the agency the “consenting” adults are entitled to, while choosing to have sexual contact with who they want, where they want.

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