The impact of Western colonialism and imperialism on sex tourism in Southeast Asia has long been ignored by the international community, its legal and ideological perspectives representing a failure to situate the industry in its historical and structural specificities. Sex tourism has expanded concomitantly with neoliberal economic development across the Southeast Asian region, creating an intrinsic relationship between the two. For too long have the voices of Southeast Asian sex workers been beaten down by their supposed Western ‘sisterhood’ and their needs articulated for them by voices in the West. It is time now to force these historical and structural determinants to the forefront of the international community’s psyche. Only by doing this can ideological and physical space be made for sex workers in Southeast Asia to claim their personal agency and autonomy.
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