COMMENT: Ambassador Thomas no doubt must learn that sexual conduct between CONSENTING adults is not illegal or immoral behavior in most global societies, nor does it always constitute "human trafficking." Clearly, there is a huge difference between sexual conduct between consenting adults AND child molestation and child exploitation, the latter of which virtually all countries fully agree on is a serious criminal offense.
As many Americans may or may not know, conspiring or having sexual contact with a child is a serious felony in or outside of the US, as well as in most countries.
Thomas' remark late last month angered some officials in Manila who questioned its basis and said it tarnished the country's image. After addressing a discussion on human trafficking in the Philippines on September 22, Thomas also told journalists that the "sex tourists" included Americans and that it was "something I'm not proud of." He urged Philippine authorities to prosecute all foreign sex tourists, including Americans.
Unfortunately, not defining "sex tourism" and lumping "human trafficking" and "sex tourism" together is perhaps is what got Ambassador Thomas into rhetorical deep water, keeping in mind that prostitution between consenting adults in some countries is not illegal. In reviewing the "Congressional Research Service Report for Congress: Trafficking in Persons," dated June 20, 2007, it defines human trafficking as:
"Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or ... the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”