VALENTINE SPECIAL: Marketing Africa as a female sex tourism destination
By Osa Mbonu
Finally, African men’s sexual prowess can be put to use. Already, quite a number of women from the western world are embarking on sex tourism trips to Africa.
When they come, they are served, serviced and pampered, writes Tatenda Gwaambuka on how female sex tourists are exploiting African men.”Older women from Europe and North America are now known to frequent African resorts in pursuit of ‘sexcapades’ as they are called,” Tatenda describes.
“The scenery in Africa is great, that cannot be doubted. European women cannot get enough of it, but beyond the scenery, there is a new attraction drawing them in. When they want to have a good time no one will know about back home where they are held in high esteem, they come to Africa. Young men stage-manage romantic affairs with the older European women and get to wine and dine with them.”
It is possible also to upgrade the quality of this kind of tourism trip. Instead of calling it female sex tourism, it can be branded as female love tourism. So we can promote Africa as a female love tourism destination.
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We all know that we now live in a globalised world, and that the world is shrinking more and more into a global village. If more love relationships can be forged between Europeans, Americans and women of other parts of the world and Africans, it is a welcome development. Better still, if they can get entangled emotionally, get married and produce children.
And the African men are quite efficient in the service. The dollars are rolling in, business is good. But some say it is an immoral trade, while others say it is exploitative.
According to Tatenda: “In 2007, Reuters ran a story on the Kenyan sex tourism phenomenon detailing the story of one Bethan (then aged 56) and her best friend Allie (then aged 64) who were on their first holiday to Kenya. They said the country was “just full of big young boys who like us older girls.” Jake Grieves-Cook, then chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board answering a question about the perception of sex-tourism said: “It’s not evil but it’s certainly something we frown upon.”
It may be frowned at but facts remain that these female tourists are not only in Africa in search of explosive sexual experiences, but also for psychological and emotional satisfaction.
But there are risks too. Tatenda informs us that “Julia Davidson, a Nottingham University fellow’s findings were that some women shunned condoms and regarded them as too “businesslike” for their needs. It could be the same with women as old as Bethan and Allie. This may not be good for both parties in Africa where HIV/AID is still being battled.
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But those involved in this erotic trips are not deterred by fear of any disease. “Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, Matty Silver said women, particularly the wealthy, single and older white women, plan holidays to have romance and sex with companions who make them feel special. These are broken women and those with urges they would be judged for in their societies,” writes Tetenda.
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She quotes Kenyan author of Sex Tourism in Africa, Kenya’s Booming Industry, Dr Wanjohi Kibicho: “These women are lonely. Among all the women I talked to, there is an impression of something lacking at home, like their needs are not being met – not only sexual but also psychological and emotional support.” Africa is their perfect get away.
Some also express their concern that female sex tourism to Africa is exploitative just as they had initially deceived Africans and took away all their human and material resources. Yet, some of the female sex tourists argue they are improving the lives of African men.
“Male sex tourism has for long been regarded as exploitative behaviour but somehow, the story changes when it comes to the female version of the same trade. The ladies cover their tracks by claiming they are not buying sex but they are helping out the young men financially.
In her clichéd defence, Reuters’ interviewee, Bethan said: “It is a social arrangement. I buy him a nice shirt and we go out for dinner. For as long as he stays with me, he doesn’t pay for anything, and I, what I want? – a good time. How is that different from a man buying a young girl dinner?” Tatenda reports.
One of those critics of female sex tourism to Africa is Julie Bindel, a political activist and founder of Justice for Women. Tatenda reports that she “advises the world not to buy into these women’s delusions; that the exploitation endemic in prostitution does not disappear when women are the buyers.
“Why sugar-coat it? These women are coming to Africa to buy sex and the moment they do, they engage in prostitution (however they may try to sanctify it as a mutually beneficial activity). Female sex tourism is the expression of racial and economic dominance.
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Nottingham University’s Davidson said it is a return to the colonial past where white women were served, serviced, and pampered by black minions.
Tatenda presents a Canadian woman interviewed by Bindel of which she says unwittingly exposed the exploitative nature of the trade. “If he doesn’t perform, he doesn’t get to eat. End of story,” said a female sex tourist. This starts to sound like slave-driver rhetoric, Tatenda suggests. However, the woman insisted that her sweet game is not prostitution.
As the world celebrates love today on Valentine’s Day, who among those critics would not feel the pangs of hunger if he or she did not have any shoulder to lean on?
Yet, the critics are unrelenting: “Whatever diplomatic arrangement of words they may use to support themselves, the female sex tourists are exploitative and should be called out for their unwholesome fetishes. It is not love they come looking for, they are here for the sex and for the dominance,” they argued.
That is their opinion. What do you think? Is it right to market Africa as a female sex tourism destination, or better still, as a female love tourism destination?