Benevolent harm: Orphanages, voluntourism and child sexual exploitation in South-East Asia


Institution-based sexual exploitation, including within orphanages, is on the rise in South- East Asia. While the drivers of this increase are complex, the growth in volunteer and orphanage tourism creates opportunities for child sexual exploitation by allowing contact between vulnerable children and child sex offenders, stimulating demand for orphanages and orphaned children through child trafficking and paper orphaning, and providing the necessary conditions for orphanage scams. This paper summarises the processes by which children become vulnerable to sexual exploitation and related harms within or facilitated by orphanages. It concludes by canvassing the international, regional and domestic initiatives that respond to these risks, as well as strategies designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children living in orphanages.