The Qualitative Report Volume 9 Number 2 June 2004 176-191 http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR9-2/bender.pdf
The Implications of Sex Tourism on Men’s Social, Psychological, and Physical Health Kimberly Bender
South County Center Mental Health Services, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
University of Nebraska-Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
This article explores sex tourism and possible concerns for the male sex tourist through a content analysis of sex tourism web sites. This qualitative, exploratory study describes the manner in which sex tour web sites attract and maintain male customers. Findings related to men’s psychosocial health are placed within an international context. Recommendations are made that pertain to international social welfare. Key words: Men’s psychosocial health, Sex tourism, Sex addiction, International Social Welfare, and HIV/AIDS
Introduction Sex tourism is a growing social phenomenon engaged in by many western males. While an increasing number of men are participating in adult travel, sex tourism remains a fairly obscure and unknown activity to the general public, academia, and helping professions. This article explores sex tourism and possible concerns for the male sex tourist through a content analysis of sex tourism web sites. This qualitative, exploratory study describes the manner in which sex tour web sites attract and maintain male customers. The data leads to several important implications in regard to men’s psychological and social well-being. The authors provide a rationale for the study of sex tourism that includes a brief discussion of the interlocking social problems of sexual addiction and risk of HIV/AIDS infection. A Rationale for Studying Sex Tourism Sex or erotic tourism involves male tourists vacationing with the expectation that part or all of their vacation will involve paid sexual experiences. These experiences might range from visiting strippers, using escorts, or engaging in sexual experiences with prostitutes (Evans, Forsyth, & Wooddell, 2000). Sex tourism occurs in several developing countries, but much of the sex tour industry revolves around the areas of the Latin America and the Caribbean, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian countries, and to a lesser extent, the Netherlands (Bishop & Robinson, 1999). Men make up the majority of sex tour customers (Abu-Nasr, 1998). Primarily men from developed countries, specifically from the United States, Western Europe, and Japan can afford and choose to participate in erotic tours. While there is very limited data on foreign prostitute customers, several studies have explored characteristics of the western male customer of prostitution in the Unites States. Literature on prostitution in the United States shows that male
The Qualitative Report June 2004
customers of prostitution tend to deviate from the traditional stereotype of unattractive and unsuccessful males. Studies show that most male consumers of prostitution are married, college educated, not physically unattractive, have had no trouble finding nonprostitute sex, and earn an average of $30,000/year (Adams, 1987). Sex tourism is associated with both the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases, and with sexually addicted behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (2001), an estimated 21.8 million people have died from HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. Furthermore, it is estimated that 36.1 million people are living with HIV/AIDS today (Safyer & Spies, 1988). UNAIDS (2001) reports that 75-80% of AIDS sufferers in Western Europe and North America are adult males. These reports indicate that 19.6 million men live with HIV/AIDS today (UNAIDS, 2001). Prostitution is identified as a major HIV/AIDS risk factor. Sex tourism, a form of organized prostitution, should be included in the areas we examine as high-risk behaviors for contracting and spreading the HIV/AIDS virus. Sex tourism creates conditions in...
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Kim Bender and Rich Furman
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Author Note Kimberly Bender, MSW is currently working as an outpatient therapist in a community mental health center in Northern Virginia. She has published articles in the Journal of Sociology of Social Welfare, Advances in Social Work, and Sincronia. She holds special interest in the areas of international social work and gender related issues and values ongoing research in these areas. Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to Ms. Kim Bender at email@example.com. Rich Furman, MSW, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. His scholarship is concerned with varied topics including: the nature of friendship and its relationship to psychosocial health; the uses of poetry in social work research, education and practice; international social welfare; social work ethics; and the relationship between social work theory and practice. Rich Furman, MSW, PhD is Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Annex 40, 60th and Dodge Streets, Omaha, Nebraska 68182-0293; E-mail: Rfurman@mail.unomaha.edu. Copyright 2004: Kimberly Bender, Rich Furman, and Nova Southeastern University Author’s Citation Bender, K., & Furman, R. (2004). The implications of sex tourism on men’s social, psychological, and physical health. The Qualitative Report, 9(2), 176-191. Retrieved [Insert date], from http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR9-2/bender.pdf
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