He even said he liked my accent. It is prostitution, but often only the seller, and not the buyer, is aware of that. Over the past decade, I have been researching the increase in female sex tourism in underdeveloped and poorer countries. I made contact with Barbara through a social networking site where I had discovered women exchanging details about long-distance romances with men in Jamaica.
None would give me their full names, because their friends and family members are not aware they have been going abroad for sex. But in the past three decades the numbers of women travelling primarily for sex with local men is thought to have increased significantly. The practice has become less stigmatised, and tour operators even add thinly veiled references to sex tourism for women as a marketing strategy. It is not just sex the women are seeking, though. Middle-aged and older women with low self-esteem and a history of failed relationships are more likely to fall for the delusion.
In the film Shirley Valentine, the central character travels to a Greek island craving love, attention and genuine emotional attachment. The reality of sex tourism is very different. I have visited Negril. It has a population of almost 6, and is host to travellers from all over the world. American spring break students arrive between March and April, and Europeans and North Americans during the winter months.
Since then, the numbers have continued to rise, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board. The beach boys I met in Negril were all desperately poor and vulnerable, yet outwardly confident and hyper-masculine at the same time. I spent several days with one of them, Clinton, during which he never stopped trying to get me to have sex with him. I was on the island during spring break and Negril was thronged with young, conventionally attractive, bikini-clad female students — but the beach boys paid no attention to them at all.
It was an unusual sight — women, some in their 70s, bumping and grinding with men young enough to be their grandsons and drinking Red Stripe beer out of cans. Linda is a Londoner who runs a pub with her daughter. Each year, as many as , women from Western countries are said to engage in sex tourism. The statistics in this area are little better than guesswork, given that few would confess to engaging in the practice in a self-reporting survey, but the figures for men are thought to be many times greater.
According to the beach boys, there is little shame or stigma in selling sex to older white female tourists, and some claim earning money this way affirms their masculinity. One young man told me the white women he had sex with made him feel sick. No wonder they have to pay for a man. Female sex tourism was first mentioned in the 19th century, in the U. It turned my blood cold.
Derrick is now 27 and Dawn is 30 years older than him. There is still a tendency to focus on the men as exploiting tourist women economically, emotionally or sexually, rather than being exploited by them.
Yet there certainly is exploitation on both sides. The sex tourism problem has become so great in some countries that there have been half-hearted efforts to reduce it.
Uniformed security personnel rounded up obvious-looking bumsters, shaved off their dreadlocks and began routinely patrolling the tourist areas along the coast. A similar initiative has since been tried in Negril. But the women travelling for sex and love are not being deterred, and nor are the impoverished young men who have only their own bodies to sell. A version of this article appeared in New Statesman. Advertisement Share or comment on this article: Meet the middle-aged, middle-class women who are Britain's female sex tourists.