Rep. Maloney Calls Legal Action to Stop Sleazy Sex Tours a Victory for NYC & for Women Around the World

Mar 22, 2004
Press Release

NEW YORK, NY - Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (Queens, Manhattan) who has worked to stop organized sex tour operations out of New York City and the entire country for four years, hailed today’s news that New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer had secured a criminal indictment of the owners of Big Apple Oriental Tours, based in Queens.


Congresswoman Maloney said, “Sex tour operators are nothing more than hustlers for organized prostitution rings around the world and they deserve to be prosecuted under all applicable state and federal law. Attorney General Spitzer has done the right thing by securing this criminal indictment of the operators of Big Apple Oriental Tours, based in Queens, for violating state law prohibiting the promotion of prostitution.”

“The people who suffer most from sex tours are vulnerable women and girls around the world,” continued Maloney, “and those in the U.S. who contribute toward their suffering are committing crimes under state and federal law. If people in the New York are promoting prostitution and helping Johns to engage in prostitution around the world, they ought to be prosecuted and put behind bars.”

Congresswoman Maloney helped spearhead a national effort to stop sex tours in the U.S. beginning in January of 2000, in partnership with Gloria Steinem and Equality Now. Maloney has urged the Justice Department to investigate Big Apple Oriental Tours and other sex tour operators for federal criminal violations and has supported federal legislation to strengthen the ability of the government to prosecute sex tour operators.

Background: Sex Tourism Industry
(Prepared by the Office of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney)

The federal PROTECT Act which was signed into law in 2003 with the support of Congresswoman Maloney, included the following provisions regarding sex tourism:

The bill makes it a crime, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, for a U.S. citizen or resident who travels in interstate commerce, or for someone to travel into the United States, for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.

The measure also makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident traveling in foreign commerce to engage, or attempt to engage, in illicit sexual conduct, even though the individual did not travel with the intent of engaging in these acts. Violation of this provision would be punishable by fines and up to 30 years in prison.

The measure also makes it an offense, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, for anyone who, for the purpose of financial gain, arranges, induces, procures or facilitates the travel of a person knowing that the individual is traveling in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.

The World Tourism Organization defines organized sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector by using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination.

Background Information:
• Sex Tour Operators, such as Big Apple Oriental Tours, provide a full service travel package including airfare, hotel, and entertainment for their customers.
• There are approximately 25 U.S.-based companies that facilitate sex tours, at least one of which is located in New York (Big Apple Oriental Tours).
• The U.N. estimates that illegal trafficking, including sex tourism, generates approximately $5 billion a year.
• It is estimated that up to one-quarter of international sex tourists are American.
• According to a June 2003 State Department report, 800,000-900,000, people annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide and between 18,000 and 20,000 of those victims are trafficked into the United States.

International Response:
• The United National Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others characterizes prostitution as “incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person.” Under the Convention, governments are obligated to punish any person who “exploits the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of that person.”
• The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women “CEDAW” obligates governments to “take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.” This has not been adopted by the United States.
• Article 34 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child calls on all countries to prevent “a) the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity; b) the exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices; and c) the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.”