The problem of sex tourism, and its’ android future.

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While the world of the tourism industry loves to boast about the opportunities that it brings to local communities, it has often turned a blind eye towards one of the most distressing issue of this sector: exploitation of women through sex tourism and prostitution.

Among the many destinations plagued with the unfortunate dominance of sex tourism, Thailand has earned its name as one of the most attractive locality for prostitution. The sex industry in Bangkok and Pattaya flourished when these cities became sex havens for men from all over the world after the American troops (who previously used women to ‘unwind’) left Thailand. The number of Thai women and girls in the sex industry was estimated to be around 500,000 to one million up to a few years ago. Back in 1996 almost five million sex tourists from all over the world visited Thailand, which injected around $26.2 billion in the Thai economy. At the same time, women in Thailand experienced an increase of 234% in AIDS.

Women and girls are subjected to exploitation, humiliation, guilt, emotional and physical pain, sexual diseases and abortion. The scale of sex tourism is so large that it is no wonder that it has often been dubbed as being the fourth ‘S’ of tourism after Sun, Sea and Sand. However, just like any other impact of tourism, the level of its consequence has changed over time, and is also likely to change in the future.

Yeoman and Mars believe that the increase of sexually transmitted diseases concerns, human trafficking problems, and the quest for beauty and physical perfection could be the drivers for change in Amsterdam’s future sex industry as it may become increasingly dominated by ‘android prostitutes’. They suggest a scenario where:

“Amsterdam’s red light district will be all about android prostitutes “who are clean of STIs, not smuggled in from Eastern Europe and forced into slavery, the city council will ave direct control over android sex workers controlling prices, hours of operations and sexual services.”

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Even if one may doubt Yeoman and Mars’ future scenario, it is hard to argue against the notion that sex tourism and its impacts are also changing. Supporting this claim is Levy, who notes that suppliers in Japan and South Korea are now renting out sex dolls to their clients to avoid legal implications that arise from prohibited prostitution and still charge the same as a regular human prostitute. “If static sexdolls can be hired out successfully, then sexbots with moving components seem certain to be even more successful”.

Ultimately, while ‘android prostitutes’ offer an attractive alternative (including legal, ethical, health risk and physical flexibility advantages), many argue that prostitution could be one of the only few forms of human labour that will remain resilient to technological unemployment.

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