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People & Power takes a look into the growth in so-called sex tourism in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, where girls as young as 11 are selling themselves to foreign, mostly European, tourists.

Unicef officials fear many sex tourists are also being attracted to Madagascar because of its abnormally low prevalence of HIV. This, combined with weak and corrupt law enforcement, make it an appealing alternative to other established sex tourism destinations where disease is wide-spread, and government-sponsored projects mean sex tourism is now actively discouraged.

Investigations have revealed that children and women are now being internally trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation by gangs.

Some women are recruited under false pretences of employment as waitresses and maids before being exploited in the commercial sex trade. The majority may know that they will be working in the sex trade, but having grown up in rural villages with little exposure to city life they cannot be expected to fully understand what this really means.

Few efforts have been made by the government to address the problem. Unicef now hopes that by bringing this issue to light they will be spurred into action.

This episode of People & Power aired from Saturday, December 13, 2008.

Source: Al Jazeera