The incident took place in a busy and vibrant area of downtown Yangon where locals, expats and tourists mix around tables that line the street.
Myanmar’s nascent tourism sector presents great opportunities as well as significant challenges and risks.
While most of these issues are well recognised and often discussed, the same cannot be said for this emerging problem.
Child sex exploiters are looking toward Myanmar as their activities are increasingly being restricted by authorities elsewhere.
We need to recognise this emerging problem and understand we are at a critical juncture in time in which there is potential to curtail the development of this dark side of tourism.
The sexual exploitation of children occurs in most societies – too often within our most trusted social institutions.
Generally communities are aware it occurs and develop strategies to either address or ignore it. This is a commercially facilitated industry enabled by distorted power relationships between rich foreigners and poor locals.
It involves a small but significant number of paedophiles, predominantly Western men, who travel to poor countries and use their status and economic power to gain access to vulnerable children for sexual exploitation.
Offenders exploit the vulnerabilities of poor families and communities.
They target places where awareness is limited and there are few institutional responses in place to restrict their activities.