Can Burma Avoid the Curse of Sex Tourism?

World

On a recent evening at a popular beer hall in Rangoon, two dozen women wearing skimpy dresses and hair extensions swayed mechanically on a stage and took turns mumbling lines of high-energy pop songs into the microphone. The crowd — mostly Burmese men, but also a few groups of foreign tourists — drank mugs of Tiger beer and took videos with their phones. Every once in a while, a girl would receive a feather boa — a tip from an admirer in the audience, costing about $12. The show concluded with a performer bouncing a flaming ball on her foot while jumping through a flaming hula hoop — and the doors were closed by 10 p.m.

Rangoon’s so-called “model shows” are hardly salacious affairs compared with the raunchy sex shows that have made Bangkok one of the world’s sex-tourism capitals. But Burmese officials and human-rights groups are worried about what…

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