Costa Rica News – As the saying goes “15 will get you 15”.
Costa Rica will launch an online campaign to warn sex tourists, mostly those from the United States, they will be punished if they engage in a sexual acts with minors in their country, officials announced Wednesday.
The fastest-growing capital of sex tourism in Latin America is seeking to shake off its reputation for being a country of impunity for sex offenders.
“Your trip to Costa Rica will end in jail if you pay for sexual relations with a person under the age of 18,” warns their new online ad campaign.
The ads will appear on dating sites and sex forums “to make it known that sexual relations with minors in Costa Rica constitutes a serious crime,” said Milena Grillo, head of the not-for-profit Paniamor Foundation, AFP reported.
Organizers said the website also identifies the location of the web visitors, allowing them to contact authorities in their countries.
“Child sexual exploitation is an unacceptable practice … that is a crime which is punishable by a long prison sentence,” said the foundation’s vice president, Ana Helena Chacon.
While the warning ads specifically target those drawn by the sex tourism industry in Costa Rica, mostly North American men, they could also translate into a big blow to the wider industry that depends on the highly-profitable sex tourism.
According to a study conducted by Eduardo Mora from the National University, the approximately 500 providers of sexual services earn up to US$40,000 daily. It also showed sex tourists spent added money in bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
“The bars and casinos in San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital) were conceived by their founders and proprietors to work in symbiosis with prostitution,” Mora told the Tico Times. “It has been a successful symbiosis for San Jose.”
While prostitution in Costa Rica is legal, the country has implemented tough legislation against sex with minors. Children rights advocates however, say the government deliberately ignores the exploitation of children since it is an important source of income for low-income families at the economy at large.