By Tabora Bojang
Tourism Minister has said that sex tourism does not exist in The Gambia and that anyone making such claims would be convicted if taken to the court because there is no state-sanctioned sex industry in the country.
Speaking at a government press briefing on Monday, organised to address allegations of wide spread paedophilia in the Gambia after UK’s Sun newspaper publication described Gambia a heaven for sex monsters, Hamat Bah said it is misleading and malicious for anybody to insinuate the presence of sex tourism in The Gambia since the government is not sanctioning any organised system where tourists come for sexual pleasure.
“I think sex tourism has been misinterpreted by a lot of people. If you write to say you have prostitution anywhere in the world who am I to tell you there are no prostitutes in The Gambia? If you are doing sex for money yes, but if you are doing sex for pleasure can that be called prostitution? Do you know what brings sex partners together? Is it for money or for pleasure? Can you prove that?
“Sex tourism is where the state sanctions sex for people who come as tourists to enjoy sex, they are organised in centres, managed, licensed and inspected medically and tourists who come for that go to those centres to make their choices and pay for sex sanctioned by the state but fortunately for us that does not exist here,” he said.
The NRP leader added: “Relationship between two people be it men and men or men and women or women and women, when you see it happen, you call it sex tourism but it is not sex tourism and that is why when taken to court, you will be convicted because it does not exist in this country. Call it prostitution, I would not deny but it is the oldest profession in the world.”
The Sun story Minister Bah said The Gambia Government has come under a “malicious slander campaign meant to tarnish the reputation of the country and strides of the Barrow Government in tourism” and as such government, has all options including legal action against The Sun who he accuses of falsely describing Gambia as a sex paradise for tourists.
He said investigations are ongoing to get to the truth and government will do whatever it takes to protect the country and diligently challenge the story to prove beyond all doubts it was malicious and done in bad faith.
“The story would not be laid to rest because it would be the last time somebody will get up and write something evil about our country and get away with it,” Bah warned.