It was once a location recognised as ‘hippy paradise’ during the early 1970’s when the ‘summer of love’ phenomenon struck. It was a place that celebrated the drug culture and where hippies flocked to take advantage of the negligent laws on drugs. Even today this impression brands Goa as a place where one can still experience this lifestyle, however, this impression has shaped a disturbing underworld. Although the laws have tightened now, Goa is experiencing a growing demand for sex-services among tourists today.
The Times of India reports the sex trade being radically fuelled by tourists travelling to Goa for sex-services, particularly carried out by children. The amount of victims who are being forced and coerced across international borders is also increasing. Some of these victims are from Nepal, Bangladesh and Russia. However, the ARZ, an organization specifically focused on combating sex trafficking in Goa, reports a high-risk target group for sex tourism among children of the Lamanis.
The Laminis are perceived as a ‘nomadic tribe’ and because of their frequent interaction and intimacy with international tourists on beaches and markets it is suspected that they are largely involved in the commercial sex trade and trafficking. The Lamani children are vulnerable prey to traffickers as they frequently wonder through streets and markets unaccompanied by their parents.
A report prepared by the energy and resources institute for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) assessed the interactions and extent of sex trafficking concerning both Lamani children and women. It revealed that Lamanis are not only interacting with tourists in the streets and on beaches but are also escorting tourists for dinners and events and accompanying them on trips abroad.
Although the Lamanis are a high-risk target group for sex traffickers, the fact that sexual exploitation of children is prominent throughout Goa seems to have a lot to do with the involvement of the tourism industry in general. In the State of Goa, tourism provides the ‘third largest’ income in comparison to other employment areas such as fishing and mining and so it advertises as an attractive opportunity for work. This prompts children, who are often encouraged by their parents and relatives, to flock to Goa seeking work – blindly unaware of their potentially decadent fate.
The tourism industry contributes largely to Goa’s economy and because of this aspect police will often treat child sexual exploitation with negligence and let these matters slip under the radar. The tourism department and the police must stop abusing their authority and fulfill their tasks of handling cases on child sexual exploitation.
Disclaimer: opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of any other affiliated individual or organization