Are governments doing enough to prevent the global expansion of the sex industry?
By Antonio Centrella, Sam Gray-Murphy, Soula Morfidis & Emma Sommerville.
Globalization has increased human interaction around the world due to technological advances and the diminishing significance of state and territory borders. This increased interaction has required governments to cooperate more extensively than ever before to overcome some of the negative effects of globalization. These effects include global law enforcement, the illicit drug trade, global ecological problems and the increase of the global sex industry. This essay will discuss what governments worldwide are doing to prevent the global expansion of the highly profitable sex industry, in the areas of entertainment, pornography and prostitution. The entertainment industry will focus on advertising, modelling and music. The pornography industry will discuss Internet pornography, regulations and the effects of children, and the prostitution industry will focus on trafficking, sex tourism and international organisations.
Governments and Advertising bodies around the world are finding it very difficult to control the use of sex in advertising. Many advertisers find it beneficial to use sex in their advertising as it attracts the consumer’s attention and makes them associate sex and a better lifestyle with their product, therefore increasing sales.  These advertisers sometimes push the boundaries and create ads which can be seen to be indecent, sexy, and sexist. It has been widely accepted that sex in advertising needs to be controlled to protect public morals and the integrity and effectiveness of advertising.  The control of this situation is difficult because society’s values and attitudes in different countries are constantly changing and therefore hard to define. If governments create regulations, they then impede on the freedom of advertisers. Government regulation limits “the rights of advertisers to communicate with the public…to receive information about products.”  Due to these reasons many governments do not regulate on advertising but rely on self-regulating bodies.
The use of sex in advertising can cause negative effects on children. In one survey, it was discovered that “children watch more than 1 300 hours of television annually, which resulted in exposure to over 20 000 commercials.”  When advertisers use sex in their ads as a technique to increase sales, it can become confusing and misleading to children. Children could grow up associating sex with products instead of sex with love, and it may also increase sexual activity among the young. This would lead to more unwanted pregnancies, more STDs and more children with self-esteem issues over body images. Governments worldwide should prevent this type of advertising from existing and expanding. They could do this by limiting these commercials to late night television, create financial disincentives to advertisers and force TV networks to comply with government regulations. 
The advantages of government intervention are that it is specific and sanctions such as fines, and non-renewal of broadcasting licenses can act as a deterrent.  Western governments can prohibit the advertisement of certain products eg, condoms, casinos, cigarettes etc. Governments can also limit what is advertised through the media due to their licensing of broadcasting stations.  Many governments fear intervention though because laws are much harder to change than voluntary guidelines, cases are not always straight-forward to judge and laws can be interpreted differently to their specified meanings. Therefore, governments tend to leave the control of sex in advertising to the industry. The advertising industry accepts and encourages this, out of self-interest and social responsibility, and as a way of preventing more awkward and inflexible enactments. 
Advertising self-regulation is only well developed in 20-40 countries, but many of them, especially Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have strengthened their guidelines regarding sex in advertising. 
Advertising guidelines around the world reflect the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Code of Advertising Practice. The ICC code states that, “advertising should be decent…prepared with a due sense of responsibility…[and] not be such as to impair public confidence in advertising.”  Self-regulation is supposed to raise the quality of advertising although it is reluctant to ban advertising of legal products eg. cigarettes, alcohol, condoms etc like governments can. It also struggles when complaints are not specifically about a certain ad but about many similar types of ads, eg. sexist.  Some self-regulation bodies, as in Australia, have no strength to uphold complaints. The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau provides a code to follow but it cannot stop an advertisement if it is seen to be offensive, only request the ad’s withdrawal. 
Children are not only influenced by what they see through advertising, they are also influenced by the global modelling and music industries. Children are very fashion conscious these days and imitate the fashions they see models wearing in their favourite magazines, which are often very revealing. Even models are starting in the industry younger and are still being made to look like sex symbols, regardless of their age. A recent news story in Australia highlights this fact, where an eight-year old female fashion model, Morgan Featherstone, who models for her father’s agency, was made to wear heavy make-up and pout in a fashion shoot for an Asian client. Morgan’s parents are supportive of her, and they believe there is nothing wrong with their daughter being portrayed as a sex object, even though she is eight-years old, because looking older increases their profits.  There is no evidence that global governments are doing anything to regulate the modelling industry to stop children being turned into sex symbols and creating poor role models for other children.
Young children also look to entertainers in the music industry as role models, who lately have been becoming more sexual both in their fashion sense and in their music, in the hope of making higher profits.  Christina Aguilera has had a lot of publicity recently over her new image and semi-naked raunchy video clip “Dirty”. Her new album is titled Stripped and features Aguilera topless on the album cover. She explains her change from “pop princess” to her new look as becoming true to herself. Many people have found this change unfit for a role model with young fans who try and copy their favourite pop stars.  Another popular music artist, 50 Cent, has released a controversial song called “P.I.M.P”, which is “degrading to women and detrimental to young audiences”.  Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family institute in America, believes this type of song is only created for the publicity it makes, increasing the sales, with no concern for the example it sets for children. This song encourages the role of pimps and poor treatment of women. It has been released internationally, influencing many children. 
Since 1985, the music industry has agreed to label CDs, tapes and albums with stickers warning of explicit content.  These labels do not stop children purchasing the music, allowing children of any age to access this music. Governments should force the music industry to designate age restrictions for unsuitable music, to protect children from suggestive music with references to sex, violence, strong language or any other harmful material.  Age restrictions have been introduced recently in Australia with R18+ age restrictions on suggestive music. Although the music industry is reluctant to pursue this worldwide because they believe it would limit the artists’ freedom of expression and will make people misinterpret the artists' lyrics.  A more suitable explanation for the music industry’s position is that these age restrictions would decrease profits.
Children also need government protection from explicit sexual content found in books, magazines, videos and especially on the internet. Pornography has become more accessible due to the telecommunications expansion from globalization, with the internet playing a large role. The internet is one of the most readily available source of pornography. It has been discovered by N2H2, an internet filtering company, that “…the number of pornography related internet pages grew from 14 million in 1998 to roughly 260 million in 2003.”  These figures are expected to continue increasing in the future, due to the large profit this industry makes.
The reason the Internet is a popular source to access pornography is that it is cheap to obtain and can be viewed in the privacy of your own home. Regulation of this World Wide Web has proven to be difficult with Internet Service Providers (ISP). ISP’s are struggling to combat millions of pages of prohibited and legal pornography that is constantly available. Caslon Analytics, an Australian internet research, analysis and strategies consultancy, estimates that of all contents on the World Wide Web, 4% consists of adult material.  From that material only 1% is considered to be illegal and involves: sadomasochism, abuse, humiliation of females, involvement of children, incest, group sex, voyeurism, sexual degradation, bestiality, torture, and objectification  . Victims of this pornography can range from males exposed to false images of sexuality, to young women being trapped in an industry, which exploits and uses them as sex objects. This may have occurred due to a society that has become desensitised and dependent on sex and sexual images  .
In the age of globalization, pornography has moved behind closed doors. Legal sites involve subscription fees and require commercial identification services; these are sometimes provided by ISP’s. Research by Caslon explains that sexual acts without consent such as rape, bestiality and child pornography to young men and women can be linked to sexual aggression  . This has provided grounds for real concern. In 1997, the Minister of justice in Canada was given the power to minimise child and violent pornography  . This was done with the help of ISP’s, along with the identification of persons that indulge in such material. These people identified are then banned from the Internet and given penalties such as, fines and imprisonment.
In Australia, the government has been developing a national framework, to protect citizens from offensive or illegal material on Australian land.  The government has moved forward with its national framework and the international right of the child act, to protect children from abuse and highly misleading sex education. One of the primary consumer groups of pornography is young boys aged between 12 and 17,  who are influenced by the dehumanisation of females found in all forms of pornography.
This dehumanisation of women in pornography could result in the mistreatment of young women by young men in relationships, believing these images are acceptable. Jerry Bergman explains this as a deviation from healthy development in young men who replace pictures for real people  . With the influx of the global movement of pornography, it seems nearly impossible for nation states to work with uniform laws towards eliminating offensive pornographic material. Globalization plays a large role in the trafficking of such materials and co-operation between nation states needs dramatic improvement with concern to pornographic material.
In regards to Internet pornography, the best form of censorship is done at home. Filter programs such as Cyber Sitter or V-chip have a list of trigger words which block access to sites that include these words. This is because at best, ISP’s are just a distribution medium and do not input or have editorial control in Australia. Internet service providers in Australia are only bound to provide bandwidth and disk space regardless of content, as information and material flows over it  . Australian law states that an ISP can not knowingly provide material of a graphic or illegal content, although this is hampered by the fact that it only applies to material stored on Australian systems. ISP’s are responsible for restricting sites to children with the programs mentioned above, however they are not designed to be censors.
It is stated by ECPAT International that the focal point for pornography should be on the government to protect the wider community from illegal pornographic material  . This protection could only be provided with the co-operation of all nation states in censoring the apparent illegal material. This brings a debate over what is legal and illegal in different countries due to different social and cultural influences. An example of cultural difference was in Iran, when the government shut down the only private firm with internet access. The government said that the internet did not comply to Islamic laws and traditions. This left only one government funded telephone link to the internet within Iran.  This highlights again the point of filtered programs when using the Internet, so that sites that are blocked are blocked by choice.
In Westernised countries the issue of freedom of speech has been a hot topic of debate in regards to the regulation of the Internet. It is argued that to censor the Internet would be to take away people’s freedom of expression. In America the first amendment protects freedom of speech, but it is said by a Christian group that “While the rights of citizens to express themselves freely should be protected, it should not be done at the expense of morality or the well being of other citizens. The citizens right to drink stops when he wishes to drive.” 
Pornographic entertainment on the Internet constituted the third largest sector of sales in cyberspace in 1996, with an estimated annual revenue of $100 million dollars. These sales boost the already huge global pornography market to an estimated $10 billion dollars annually  . The markets consist of pornographic magazines, videos, the Internet and more recently, games. It appears that slipping moral standards have let this market grow unchecked in our globalised society, especially with the use of telecommunications. Also the lack of control of cyberspace in concern to general regulation across the board between countries that have differing opinions.
People everywhere are using this new globalised world to their advantage in order to make profits in industries that are usually considered immoral. All aspects of the sex industry are large profit makers, and in today’s world, it is becoming harder and harder for governments to detect and prevent. The technology of the internet and its extremity is a prime example of just how difficult it is for governments to protect the world from the sex industry. Another overwhelming sex industry that the government has much difficulty in controlling is the prostitution industry. The overwhelming size of both the internet and trafficking industries are a result of globalization. Technology has made it easier for the pornography industry to spread as it has, and the lack in significance of the borders around the globe have helped the trafficking industry to thrive.
A major global contribution to the sex industry is the illegal trafficking of women and children. The process occurs in every country around the globe and “No country can claim that traffic does not exist within its borders...” 
Due to the decreasing importance of borders as a result of the new global era, trafficking has increased significantly in recent years as it is now much easier to enter countries illegally and undetected. Many of the women, who are trafficked into other countries, are led there under false pretences. Many women believed that they would “…be employed in positions as dancers, waitresses, au-pairs, domestic servants, sales clerks, or study abroad programs.”  Only to find out that they had been trafficked for other less appealing purposes. “Women and children are being sold for profit all over the globe and shipped across borders. They supply the multibillion-dollar sex-trafficking industry.” 
The problem with this current global industry and a major reason why it continues to exist at such a predominant level, is because, “…the dual illegality of sex work and migration allows smugglers and brothel owners to exert an undue amount of power and control over foreign sex workers.”  This enforces many women to remain in the horrid situations that they have been mislead in to. The women are unable to turn to law enforcement as they will be and usually are sent back to the home country they originally fled from. The women who are unknowingly lured into these situations are helpless and governments are yet to act appropriately in these circumstances. In most cases, if the law is involved, the traffickers get off with little punishment, whereas the women who are trafficked receive the harsher penalties.
The trafficking industry is increasingly growing and governments need to act fast if they plan to slow it down. Laws need to be changed and tougher regulations need to be enforced, trafficking must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by the criminal justice system in order to change the current situation. One solution to fight the problem of trafficking around the globe is suggested by Sara Jordan in her article “Off Our Backs”. She suggests that, “Law enforcement officials at all levels should be trained in how to recognize situations that may involve trafficking”. Trafficking is a crime that many law enforcement officials would not receive much training for and it may not be something that is easily recognized. If they receive more training, it will increase the chances of them detecting the crime and acting in accordance.
Trafficking around the globe also significantly involves children as, “…an estimated one million children are currently trafficked for coerced sexual exploitation or labor.”  The industry has skyrocketed in recent years due to its huge profits and relatively few risks. Many nations around the globe have no specific laws against trafficking in persons and few on women. However, some government and non-government organisations have raised alarm at the issue and taken actions to prevent it from progressing. The “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Traffic in Persons, Especially Women and Children”  supplements the U.N Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
This protocol was adopted by the U.N in November 2000, and highlights the fact that trafficking is a global issue. Countries from all around the globe have come together to work on prevention against trafficking as well as discussing the laws implemented against such crimes. Another global organization taking action against the trafficking and exploitation of children in particular, is “The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.” This was adopted by the U.N General Assembly on May 25, 2000, which came into force on January 18 2002 with 105 countries signing it. 
Another industry which has caused global concern is sex tourism. This industry is strongly related to globalization as the increasing border crossing by people all around the world helps this industry thrive. Many countries rely on sex tourism as a solid boost to the economy. One of these countries is the Philippines where “Sex-tourism is now the third top-dollar corner…”  Both women and children are exploited in this industry by both organizers of the trade as well as parents who encourage their children to take part for profit purposes.
The concept of child sex tourism is a widely spread topic discussed by many organisations who are appalled by the situation. Many children are encouraged to migrate to tourist areas with the sole purpose to attract the child sex offenders who exploit the “…economic hardships which many families endure.”  An organisation called, “Captive Daughters”, based on preventing child trafficking and exploitation, points out how, “The commercial sexual exploitation of children parallels the growth of tourism in many parts of the world.”  As the borders continue to decrease and the ability for more people to travel increases, the amount of sex tourists is bound to increase along with this unless something is done to prevent it.
ECPAT have targeted the routes to the problems by working with airlines that travel to the hot spots for sex tourism as well as other travel related industries. They have performed such activities as providing prevention notices on luggage tags, ticket pouches, provided education manuals and programs in tourist training schools, in-flight videos, advertisements against child sex tourism, and incorporated codes of conduct for tour operators that have been promoted by various sectors of the travel industry.  This is a very positive sign that actions are being taken, even if it is not by the government.
The commercial exploitation of children is a very concerning global problem which appears to be increasing along with the rise of globalization. An article by the World Health Organization highlights this point and states that, “In an increasingly borderless world, exploiters move about easily, escaping detection and prosecution. Trafficking of children for sexual purposes is a multi-million dollar industry, with routes no longer as predictable as before.  The age of those children being exploited into child sexual services is becoming younger and younger, with children as young as eight now being purchased for these services. 
One explanation for the increasing number of children now exploited for sexual services in many countries is due to the fear of AIDS. Increasingly men are requesting young children or virgins in the belief that the chance of them contracting the disease is smaller, however, children are actually more prone to catching AIDS than adults are. Children dragged into this industry are also physically abused and often given illegal drugs and substances in order to keep them in control.  The sexual exploitation of children is a major profit based industry as they are much cheaper to control and don’t require or expect as much as the adult women may do.
The sex trade on a global level is a phenomenal profit based industry which is circulating billions of dollars each year. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the world has seen a sharp increase in the industry due to reducing borders and a rising international economy. Many women have felt the disadvantage of the new global era, “caught in the pincer movement between the demands of international capital on one hand, and welfare retrenchment on the other increasing numbers of women have taken to the streets…”  As a result of globalization, the new economic era has also increased the chances of women entering the sex industry in the past thirty years, as “…a global restructuring of capitalist production and investment has taken place and this can be seen to have wide-scale gendered implications and, by association, an impact on sex industries and sex work internationally.” 
In this money making industry, the United Nations have estimated that annual profits from the sex trade to be $7 billion.  This is an enormous amount which also highlights just how widespread and predominant the industry is. Even people such as, entertainment girls, prostitutes, hospitality girls, mail order brides and massage girls are to all be part of the globalization of the world’s economy.  Judith Mirkinson, a writer in the Earth Island Journal … also points out the size of the industry as she says that “The largest segment of the global market in women is international prostitution…” 
The sex industry is a phenomenal money making trade which has been assisted by today’s advanced technologies. Globalization has enabled the industry to thrive in many circumstances as it has created a world with less restrictions and more access to communication between individuals. Human interaction around the world has also increased as a result of globalization, due to the declining significance of territorial borders as well as the ever increasing dominance and availability of the communication and advertising industries. The pornographic and entertainment industries can result in harsh effects for certain individuals within societies around the globe. It is the responsibility of the governments to prevent this from occurring. This has proven difficult due to the restrictions to government intervention in these industries and has caused much debate by certain individuals. Governments have also found it difficult to prevent the trafficking of people across borders and the increasing sex tourism industry, as they are global trades that operate all around the world.