Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sex tourism, Incredible India's dark side

New Delhi: The tourism industry has earned $19 billion as foreign exchange for the country, but its growth in India is also making skeptics sit up and take a close look at its darker side – sex tourism. In fact the Ministry of Women and Child Development has commissioned a study on sex tourism in India. Taking a serious note of the rise in sex tourism in the country, the Government is looking into some of the cases in the recent past like two British nationals, Duncan Grant and Allan Waters, who face charges of pedophilia. Another state government report in Andhra Pradesh revealed an increase in HIV cases near the holy town of Tirupati. So a study is being conducted to find out how the growth in the tourism industry is also fuelling prostitution in the country. The study was commissioned to a non-government organisation (NGO) but it was kept under wraps since the issue was sensitive. The study, which is being conducted by Gram Niyojan Kendra, covers more than 18 states in various tourist centres, including religious sites. The elaborate study also includes interviews of over 10,000 victims of sex trade at various tourist spots. "It’s a very important study. One has to study the effect of a fledging industry in the country,” Director of Centre for Social Research Ranjana Kumari said. The initial data trickling in indicates that the problem is within the country – domestic tourists rather than the foreign ones are fuelling sex trade in India. The final report is slated to be out by November this year, which could very well help policy makers regulate and channelise an industry which is the country's top foreign earner after information technology.

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