A War on (Sex) Terror
A Latvian NGO called Reaction has declared a war on what it calls "sex terrorism," or sex tourism. The declaration comes after the group has witnessed a disturbing rising trend of reports of women being harassed by visitors to Riga.
While the NGO is not against tourism, it's clear that the group is targeting its "war" on certain groups of tourists: young men, usually (though not always) British, who come to Riga in groups for one purpose, and we can guess it's not to see the House of Blackheads. Ever since the advent of low-cost flights to Riga, tourism in general has increased by over 50%, but the city has become a target for stag groups, and the Latvian government has largely remained silent on the issue as the groups tend to bring in a lot of cash along with their harassment. However, ordinary citizens, particularly young women of Riga, are starting to speak up and are complaining about being harassed when walking in the Old Town or in clubs. Latvian media has also been covering more and more reports of Latvian women being hassled by foreign men. One Latvian current events programme is set to begin screening a documentary series on the issue this week.
While the NGO might not be able to stop stag groups from visiting Riga, it's hoping to dissuade harassment by changing the reputations of Latvian women in Western Europe. Reaction's month-long "Stop Sex-terrorism" campaign is aimed at raising Latvian womens awareness and self-respect, and will feature a TV advert, a theme song and a variety of public events. The organizer's goals are to dissuade young women from selling themselves for the price of a cocktail. Fortunately, we all know how well it works when organizations declare war on concepts. Obviously, drugs and terror have already been eliminated by the American government, so inevitably the Latvian NGO will succeed in its struggle to defeat sex tourism ...right?
I was in Riga a gain last week on business and on Friday evening was approached by a group of girls giving out Reaction sex terrorism stickers - that's all they were doing - giving these stickers to anyone passing. No explanation, and I certainly didn't see them approaching the local girls in the area and talking to them. In fact most people seemed confused as the what the stickers represented - was it a new club?! UK and German guys come to Riga for the cheap booze, strip clubs and availability of pretty girls. Certainly there is very bad behavour related to alcohol consumption but if a Latvian girl wants to go to bed with one of these guys for the price of a ccktail then the current Reaction campaingn is not going to make any difference at all!Reply
While I also think that a lot of the stag party members are a complete nuisance and Riga would be better off without them, this entire campaign seems a totally crazy idea to me. First the name 'Sex Terrorism'. According to Wikipedia, "Terrorism is a term used to describe violence or other harmful acts committed (or threatened) against civilians by groups or persons for political or other ideological goals." There is no violence or harm caused here, so calling it 'terrorism' is a pure misnomer that seems to be for shock value alone. I have seen one of the TV commercials and it fails because it doesn't really explain *why* the girls shouldn't sleep with foreigners. It's unlike other public information spots that have a point, i.e. don't drive drunk (because you could kill someone), don't drop litter (because it makes the city look a mess), don't do drugs (because you could become addicted and ruin your life), etc. In summary, this campaign doesn't seem very well planned at all - it's just some people telling other people how they think they should leave their lives. These people should just mind their own business and stop preaching.Reply