Echaves: Old bad wolves

BRITISH national Douglas Michael Slade, 74, and American Harold Glover, 69, declared themselves tourists and traveled far to see the sights of the Philippines.

Trouble is, they had eyes only for Filipino minors and had nothing more in their mind than sex. So, now they’re in trouble with the law.

Imagine being 74 and 69, ages when people are rightfully labeled grandparents. That’s when young children should feel safe, protected and nurtured, because no harm could ever come to them.

Instead, Glover and Slade are unmasked as big, old bad wolves, a.k.a. abominable predators. Glover might think he’s too far from the clutches of his country’s laws.

But the US Protect Act, which criminalizes sexual abuse of children by a US citizen in a foreign country, should still reach him.

What should be secured is that Glover and Slade stand to answer for their crimes.

Glover should hope he doesn’t meet the same fate as Marvin Hersch, who earned a 105-year sentence.

Hersch was the first US citizen convicted for multiple crimes committed outside US borders, all involving sexual exploitation of minors.

What should not happen is a repeat of the observations of the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary--that “sex tourists often escape prosecution in the host countries (like the Philippines) because of ineffective law enforcement, lack of resources, corruption, and immature legal systems.”

Worse, tourism is one of the main driving forces behind the economics of developing countries. Thus, according to US lawyer Sara K. Andrews in her paper on “US Domestic Prosecution of the American International Sex Tourist: Efforts to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation,” these nations have little incentive for domestic enforcement.

Unicef has estimated that Asia alone has more than a million prostitutes coming from Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe have, however, shown a rise.

Those exploited most often come from extremely poor, rural areas while the perpetrators are predominantly male and from wealthy industrialized nations like the US, UK, Germany, France, Australia and Japan.

So poor are the young victims that exploiters even have the gall to flaunt their advantage. Says a 65-year-old retired schoolteacher and grandfather from Florida, “I’m helping them (the young victims) financially. No sex, no food. If someone has a problem with me doing this, let Unicef feed them.... $20 allows them to eat for a week.”

Equally disturbing is the complicity of a network of adults who enable and facilitate the sexual exploitation. These include insensitive family members responsible for the child’s initial entry into the industry.

Then there are community leaders who stay quiet amid the sex trafficking, in return for bribes from pimps and brothel owners.

Also, there’s the syndicate and organized criminal networks earning big bucks.

They’re no better than unscrupulous tour operators in the US who promise tourists access to “fresh young ladies,” “beautiful, unsoiled girls,” “never sleeping alone on this tour,” or having a different girl every day, even “two if you can handle it.”
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