modern day slavery. human trafficking: a multi billion dollar industry, with costa rica recognized globally for it's sex tourism


~ The United Nations conservatively estimates that there are about 32 million victims of human trafficking across the globe at any given time. In 79 percent of human trafficking cases, the motive is sexual exploitation – forced prostitution or rape - with girls making up the majority of the victims. (1)

~ As of 2011, the U.S. State department added Costa Rica to the tier-2 watch list. As a U.S. Embassy source explained, there has been a failure on behalf of the Costa Rican government to condemn or prosecute human traffickers. In addition there has been a failure to maintain specialized services and shelters for trafficking victims. These problems have paved the way for traffickers to enslave and exploit girls as young as 6 years of age, but most frequently between the ages of 12 and 17, with no ramifications for these actions. This has opened the door to a multimillion dollar industry where even the parents of some of these children have begun selling and exploiting their own children for additional income. (2)

sexual exploitation of Children   

~ "Sex Tourism in Costa Rica has been a consequence of the rapid growth of international tourism in the country, and the country is being promoted as a popular destination for sex tourism. Despite the government and industry efforts, the child sex trade has been also a huge problem. Forty one percent of Costa Rican children are born into single-parent homes—usually headed by the mother. Single parent homes means that there is usually a succession of ‘stepfathers’ for whom a child is just part of the marital-sexual package. Families sometimes pimp their own children." (3)

~ "The sexual exploitation of children is a significant issue in Costa Rica, and has drawn the attention of the public. Many sex tourists prefer to target children, believing that they are less likely to be infected with HIV. However, children are more susceptible to HIV infection than other age groups. " (4)

~ "On Tuesdays, Filipino, Jamaican and Argentinean ships dock in Puerto Limon and sailors come ashore. Prostitute women and children aged from 11 and 12 upwards then flock to the bars near the docks in order to sell themselves to the sailors. Children generally offer "oral" for 300c, adult women try to persuade men to pay 2,OOOc for penetrative sex." (3)

~ "Americans are the majority of Costa Rica’s sex tourists, composing 80% of the total number of tourists" (5)

"Expatriates and sex tourists in Costa Rica are faced with ample opportunities for the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Poverty and drug addiction place large numbers of children in an extremely vulnerable position and there are many third parties who are keen to exploit this vulnerability for pecuniary ends, as well as individual men who wish to exploit it for sexual ends." (6)


(1) Facts on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery | Soroptimist. (n.d.)  from

(2) Trafficking in Persons Report 2017 – Costa Rica – Tier 2 Watch List. (n.d.) from

(3) Gutman, W. E. “Child prostitution: a growing scourge.” The Panama 17, Apr. 2004. The Panama News. Child prostitution: a growing scourge

Patricia Leidl. “Sexual Trafficking of Children in Costa Rica.” 2006. International Labour Organization/The Georgia Straight, Vancouver Sex Tourism Report

(4) Song, Susan. "Children as Tourist Attractions" (PDF). Global Child Sex Tourism. Youth Advocate Program International. Retrieved 17 October 2012.

(5) Schmidt, Blake (27 July 2007). "Businesses Say No to Sex Tourism Industry". Tico Time.

(6) Rogers, Tim. “Costa Rica’s Sex-Tourism Is Growing”. Tico 2009. Special to The Miami Herald Costa Rica’s Sex-Tourism Is Growing.