New sex tourism proposal to be launched today

The tourism institute and a foundation plan to launch a project today on the theory that foreign visitors are exploiting minors for commercial sex.

The foundation is Fundación Paniamor, which is best known for hanging banners addressing the topic at Juan Santamaría airport.

Ana Helena Chacón, the second vice president, is participating along with the  Instituto Costarricense de Turismo in what is being called Unforgettable Costa Rica. That phrase is hardly unique because travel agencies and hotels have used it in their promotions that have nothing to do with sex tourism.

The session today is described as a reminder of the public and private alliance against sex exploitation.

The Fundación Paniamor always has promoted the idea that foreign tourists come to Costa Rica to exploit underage children. That theory is not born out by the record. There have been no recent arrests here.

The United States enforces a law that prohibits its citizens from engaging in such activities overseas. There have been convictions in U.S. courts, but the venues have been exclusively Asian countries.

A U.S. judge sentenced a California man who admitting engaging a 16-year-old girl as a prostitute. That was Tuesday, but the case involved a California runaway.

Although there have been no recent cases of unforgettable102815underage prostitution here, Vice President Chacón did note in a recent television interview that there are 14,000 adolescent mothers in Costa Rica each year. None appears to have risen to the level of a criminal case.

The age of consent for consensual sex in Costa Rica is 15. Prostitution is legal if the prostitute is 18 or older.

The video broadcast Sept. 27 of the Cadena Nacional featured a Carrillo, Guanacaste,  woman, Hazel Arias, who told her story of giving birth at 14 and trying to raise her son Santiago. In addition to the vice president the video featured Mercedes Peñas, the wife of President Luis Guillermo Solís.

The video said that more than 90 percent of the men involved in early pregnancies are twice the age of the girls who became pregnant and have much more experience.

Although the pregnancy of  Ms. Arias was the result of a crime, there was no mention of legal action.

Some foundations here obtain grants by promoting the idea of sex exploitation by foreign tourists.

Among the most notorious case of underage sex was a court case in 2011 where a mother was accused of repeatedly prostituting her daughters 7 and 10 to a male acquaintance. That case pointed out the reality that sex exploitation of the young usually does not involve tourists.

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