Elliot J. Glotfelty, B.S., is a research scientist and vocal advocate for vulnerable populations throughout the world, specifically in Central America and Southeast Asia, where he has worked as a long-term volunteer with non-profit organizations over the past eight years. During the time, Glotfelty has volunteered on a variety of projects and campaigns to raise awareness on issues of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, education inequities, and infrastructure development. While volunteering in Thailand in 2013, Glotfelty worked as a research assistant on one of the first studies evaluating vulnerabilities of male sex workers in Chiang Mai. This work was published in 2017. Glotfelty holds B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Biology and is currently a second-year neuroscience doctoral student researching neurodegenerative disorders and drug development. Glotfelty plans to continue scholarship and awareness efforts for human rights in the future. Email: email@example.com
Glenn M. Miles, Ph.D., has worked for over 25 years focusing on children and young people in difficult circumstances in southeast Asia. He pioneered INGOs Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor, Tearfund UK, and Love146 in Cambodia and teaches on child rights, holistic child development and safeguarding in Wales and southeast Asia. He initiated a series of research projects on sexual exploitation; listening to boys, young men, women, and transgender survivors and perpetrators. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Interacting with locals is a highlight of the tourism experience; however, these interactions may be accompanied by unsolicited propositions for the traveler to participate in the sex industry. Through the lens of Thailand’s largely visible sex industry, this work addresses issues of tourism and travel intertwined with the sex industry in greater Southeast Asia. Governments, a variety of businesses and individuals benefiting financially from a burgeoning sex tourism industry encourage persistence of a viable local sex trade. Although subtleties exist between human trafficking, the sex industry, and sex tourism, each can be intertwined. This article provides an overview of the Southeast Asian sex industry followed by my (Elliot Glotfelty) personal experience witnessing child sex trafficking during an otherwise normal tourist excursion in Vientiane, Laos. During the drive back from the early evening trip, my driver offered to join me for a beer and made stops at a karaoke bar and beer shop, which turned out to be thinly veiled brothels. Having worked on human trafficking research in Thailand during the prior months, I recognized the situation into which I had stumbled. I was soon encouraged to purchase sex from multiple women and girls and therefore given an unexpected insight into local interaction with sex establishments. I was clear that I did not want to partake/buy anyone and extracted myself as soon as possible to get back to my guesthouse. My driver entered these spaces and seemed to know some of the girls inside and treated the situation with casualness. Local buyers of sex, such as my driver, are largely responsible for perpetuation of sex economies, though tourists have historically driven and remain important sources of income for many individuals, including businesses not directly associated with the sex industry. The goal of this article is to bring more awareness to child/human sexual exploitation and how tourists, specifically men, interact with the economies where it is prevalent. Focus on male buyers of sex throughout this piece is not intended to imply that women do not buy sex or engage in sex tourism. Recommendations for ethical tourism practices and possible policy interventions are provided at the end of the article.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Glotfelty, Elliot J. and Miles, Glenn M.
"(S)Expectations Abroad: Male Traveler Interactions with Southeast Asian Economies,"
Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence:
3, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dignity/vol3/iss3/4
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