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24 Oct 2012

"Can't buy me love!" Or not?

Sex tourism in Belarus

All quite on Belarusian sex market. At least, citing official statistics. Number of prostitutes in comparison to last year has grown, but not that big, police informs. Visa cordons still help slow down the flow of sex tourists. Comparing with such well-known sex destinations like Thailand, Belarus is lagging far behind. But sex tourism in Belarus does exist. Journalists talked to foreigners who came over to Belarus looking for sex. According to them, Belarus has long built reputation as a sex-friendly country.

"Find a nice girl in Minsk is difficult"

We are sitting in a VIP  living room of an apartment on Independence Avenue in Minsk. Two foreigners who wished to remain anonymous, told us about sex tourism in Belarus. It is worthwhile to mention that they are not on an organized sex tour, but travels on their own to meet Belarusian girls for fun.

First time I came to Belarus in 2008, one of them said. Since then, I have been here eight times. Usually I am here for a week or so. But they say that there are sex tourists, who may live in Minsk for a month and all the time having a lifestyle such as "clubbing, drinking, womanizing."

"To rent a nice apartment is quite cheap, we rent this one for $ 140 a day. Dollar's exchange rate against the Belarusian ruble is favorable to foreigners. You have beautiful girls and Minsk is very safe: you can easily walk around the city at night and not worry that you will be robbed or killed. In western European countries, if you offer sex to a girl, she can spit on you or call the police. Here they respond with a smile "- tell our new friends.

These men think that today to find a "good girl" in Minsk is difficult. Recently, Belarusian girls are trying to "fool" foreigners on food, drink, clothes and other material things. In 2008 girls were more naive and friendly. "But they have been spoiled by  men themselves, because men paid" - says one of my interlocutors. Today, after sexual advances in the clubs girls often openly called the value of their services. Men say that the price depends on the location in which you are trying to talk to  her. For foreigner who are in a night club the minimum - $100 for a “quicky”  (one sexual act). Maximum - $500.

But the girls can also have a "mom" that makes thinks both simpler and more expensive They organize girls right at the club, establish communication with the girls, exchange phone numbers and offer sexual services directly to customers. "Mommy" gives young ladies a clear order: do not waste time, do the job and leave immediately.

A large number of prostitutes, according to the observations of foreigners, are students from the provinces. But you can also meet women who work to feed her children. "Apart from money, foreigners often buy them clothes, lingerie, perfume ... " This is one more reason for them to do this.

"We have no sex tourism in Belarus, but there are sex tourists"

According to the State Border Committee in the past, there are around 6 mln. foreigners crossing Belarus border, mostly from the CIS. Among the leaders of foreign countries in the number of visits were Turkey, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Latvia. It is impossible to say, what percentage of these people used the services of prostitutes. But, according to Lyudmila Petina, chairman of the public association "Women's Independent Democratic Movement," Belarus is less affected by sex tourism than our neighbors because of the complexity of visa procedures.

Lily Kobzik, chief editor of "Tourism and recreation" newspaper says that we have, in principle, problems with inbound tourism. And as a consequence, to talk about a tourist industry with sexual intent is difficult. "If the six or eight years ago, there were visits groups of Italian and Turkish "grooms" (sex-tourists), but today they are gone. Foreigners do not travel by groups anymore. Thus, we do not have sex tourism, but there are sex tourists "- sums she

Helen Nesteruk, director of "La Strada" program of the international association "Gender Perspective" says that Belarus will never be Thailand. "Thailand has developed sex tourism, because it has widely available services of minors, we just can not imagine it here. For Belarus developed sex tourism must mean something specific. But there is nothing we can really offer," - he said.



Photo  is made on the basis of real information of one of Belarusian sites

"Belarusian women consider foreigners as a mean of transportation"

Lily Kobzik  says that foreigners often come for years to the same women for sexual pleasures. But this is not an example of sex tourism, she said, this is common for any poor country, where the girls are looking at a foreigner as a means of transportation. "Our woman wants to have sex with a foreigner, because he offers her new experience of life. They are having a good time, go out, she hopes that he will take her out not in Puhovichi but in Italy. This won’t happen, but this is in heads of our Belarusian girls", says Lily Kobzik.

Prostitution is not legal in Belarus and the authorities struggles sex tourism imprisonment and fines prostitutes, using also administrative arrests. But regarding fighting with prostitution in Belarus  our foreign friends give their own advice. They have not addressed the Belarusian government or law but  parents. "Spend more time with their children. Especially with girls in their teens, when they are likely to lose their virginity. Then they won’t come to the club and did not rush into bed with a total stranger" - they say.

Statistics about prostitution and sex tourism in Belarus

According to statistics from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the country has around 1830 persons engaged in prostitution (including about 700 in Minsk). Over the last year the number rose to 90. During past years there is  30% increase in the number of persons who provide information about sexual services over the internet.

In 2009, a Turkish citizen with Belarusian residence permit was sentenced to seven years in prison, for organizing sex tours for his countrymen. In 2010, his compatriot also received seven years in prison for organizing such business. There are also few citizens of Middle East states that had been detained and then releases and deported from this country for similar activities.

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