The Secret Service Scandal and Sex Tourism

The story of the Secret Service advance team, preparing for President Obama’s visit to Colombia, continues to be headline news.  Eleven members have had their security clearance revoked following the allegations that they brought prostitutes into their hotel in Colombia.

What is scary is that this sort of thing happens every day in country after country throughout the world.  It is called sex tourism: travel for the purpose of engaging in sex with prostitutes.

There have been a variety of articles linking the Secret Service Scandal to Sex Tourism.  Kristen Powers writes that “Colombia Scandal Exposes Sex Trafficking Growth“:

When the news first broke, the headlines seemed shocking: U.S. Secret Service agentsbuy prostitutes while in Cartagena, Colombia, advancing a trip for President Obama.  But this is no aberration. Men working abroad on behalf of our government engage in this kind of behavior so frequently that the Pentagon was forced in 2004 to draft an anti-prostitution rule aimed at preventing the U.S. military from being complicit in fueling sex trafficking.

Apparently sex trafficking is a regular part of United States military presence overseas:

Serving in the United States military is about honor, dignity, and strength. So it makes sense that the U.S. military would make visiting brothels and having sex with women and kids forced into a prostitution a big no-no for American soldiers, right? On paper, establishments that sell sex are off-limits for men (and women) in uniform. But in practice, sex traffickingflourishes near U.S. military bases. Should U.S. soldiers be abusing people in another country while protecting people in this one?

Do not read this post as simply a sort of ant-military rant.  Sex tourism swirls around all of Latin America, especially around large events such as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil.  It is a clear indicator of the brokenness of our society.  People travel to other countries to do things they would not do here – to buy prostitutes, use women for sex, basically to rape and abuse another human being.

If you feel tempted to brush this off as something that happens overseas only, know that it increasingly happens here: see the article “Not Quite a Teen, yet Sold for Sex.”

Injustice is all around us.  It would be easy to shake our heads in yet another clear example of this.  The question I ask is: what can we do to change things?


3 thoughts on “The Secret Service Scandal and Sex Tourism

  1. I can’t speak for the entire military, but everyone on my boat was given training on sex trafficking during my last deployment. If there was a known place in each port we pulled in, we were told about it and to stay away from it. The one guy that I knew of who went in got hustled out of $300, and everyone made fun of him, vice praising him. S. Korea’s pretty Army heavy, so I don’t know how they do things, but work is being done. It’s going to take time and effort to change a practice thousands of years old.

    1. I appreciate you sharing, especially with your experience. That is why I did not want this to come off as an anti-military post. Sex tourism draws in a lot of people who are not military (since you can’t really call what the military does as “tourism” anyway). My hope would be that this incident would draw attention to the women (and men) throughout the world who are forced into prostitution.

      1. No problem, I didn’t really see your post that way; just seemed like a good opportunity to add to a discussion. This crisis is similar to several other crises in the military right now (sexual harassment of female service members, mental health, etc.) in the sense that senior leadership (Secretary of Defense/services, Generals/Admirals) are talking about it a lot and trying to put measures in place to make progress. It won’t fix the crises completely anytime soon, but I speak up to help ensure that their efforts reach as wide an audience as possible. Especially since that article you linked to makes passing mention at best

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