An online movement has become more and more popular over the last months: Passport Bros is a group of men who share among each other traveling tips. The catch, however, is that the trips and the tips are focused mainly on how to find “easy women”, mostly in non-Western countries.
Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Dominican Republic. Those are some of the most popular destinations of the Passport Bros. The group is very active on Facebook and Discord, where they share their trips to these countries, posting photos and videos of women in hypersexualized ways. Women in their bikinis at the beach, at parties or just in the street. In other publications, men appear to be showing off girlfriends, wives or a casual date. Many of these photos and videos seem to have been taken without consent.
On Facebook, on a private group, the media published is more discreet than on Discord, where there is a specific channel where nude videos and photos are shared, also likely taken without women’s consent. The number of members in the Facebook group has grown from 14k to almost 18k in just over a month.
Law professor at the RUG and cybercrime specialist Jeanne Bonici explains that although these pictures might have been taken without consent, it is not illegal to do so. These social media platforms already monitor crimes such as terrorist content, child abuse, and defamation. However, when it comes to non consensual images it is more complicated to monitor, and it could result in more invasion of users’ privacy in order to analyze images. Nudity is also not illegal in several countries, therefore sharing nude pictures and videos is not a cyber crime.
Many of the posts also ridicule feminists, encouraging men to leave what they call “modern women” in order to find “traditional” women overseas, in non-Western countries. There is a general idea that these women are submissive and will respect the roles of a traditional relationship, where the man is in charge. However, the objectifying way these men refer to women on social media channels is contradictory.
Main names in the movement
Auston Holleman is a big name in the movement. The young American has a youtube channel with over 45k followers. There, he shares his experiences in countries like Brazil and Thailand. In one of his popular videos, Holleman tells that Brazilian women are “easy”, know how to “show appreciation” and the “bros” can just kiss anyone in the street.
Holleman had been living in Brazil for a few months. After being exposed by Brazilian activist Stephanie Ribeiro in January 2023, Holleman fled Brazil immediately.
Beyond Holleman, other names express notoriety within the movement. Among the five administrators of the private Passport Bros Facebook group, Cardell Beasley is the most active one, constantly updating the feed with motivational messages and videos for his fellow bros. The content of these videos ranges from tips on how to become a businessman outside of America to overcoming negativity and focusing on building a strong community of brothers around the world. Beasley left Detroit in the United States and moved to the Dominican Republic where he opened an establishment called Wings and Waffle, located at Sosua beach, on the country’s north coast.
The way Beasley promotes his restaurant on the Facebook group, displaying the female staff as if they were a part of the menu, arouses engagement from other group members. In some of the comments, they get to rate the ”quality” of the women, saying that “the photos of the food look delicious and authentic”. One member comments that he will check the place out for “some food”, another one says that he will bring “a couple of first timers”, while Beasley replies that he is “looking forward to it”.
Also located in the same region as the aforementioned establishment, Finger Finger Creoule Soul Food is a small restaurant on the seashore of Sosua Beach. The proprietor Alex Augustin owns a Youtube channel with more than 12k subscribers where he tries to attract tourists by selling a hypersexualized image of his female employees. The videos mainly consist of interactions between Augustin and his staff where he asks the women to show their telephone numbers to American guys, that seem to be the majority of his audience on the social platform. Commonly mentioned on the private Facebook group and Discord channels, Augustin also known as “Finger Finger” – a direct reference to the name of his Youtube Channel – is constantly praised by the Passport Bros’ members.
It is important to state that this investigation raises suspicions of eventual illegal prostitution in both establishments based on the material gathered from posts and discussion on these social media platforms, however, there’s no incriminating evidence proving an actual violation of the local law. According to a 2017 United Nations report, the coast of Sosua Beach is a common route of sex tourism, especially for western men which contributes to high levels of prostitution.
Sex tourism and human trafficking
According to a 2021 report by the International Justice Mission (IJM) – a global organization that protects people in poverty from human trafficking, multiple legitimate businesses in the Dominican Republic profit from commercial sexual exploitation including bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Besides providing the ordinary services expected, these establishments also charge a percentage or a specific fee for the “off-premises services” offered by the staff to certain clients.
The IJM report also states that the Dominican Republic has the fastest growth rate of human trafficking in the world, and is the fourth largest exporter of prostitutes in the world, behind Brazil, Thailand and The Philippines.
The Caribbean country that attracts millions of tourists every year is also a strategic route for sex trafficking networks, mainly due to the permeable borders between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as the high demand for sex tourism. Women of different ages are usually recruited in their home countries with offers to work as waitresses in key tourist destinations like Punta Cana, Sosua and Santo Domingo. After arriving in the country, however, they are told that debts need to be paid, forcing them into prostitution, explains the Insight Crime institute, a foundation that studies national and citizen security in Latin America and Caribbean countries.
For Celine Verheijen, project coordinator on sexual exploitation at the End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), these recruitment processes vary according to the modality of trafficking, social conditions of victims and country. She explains that they operate on the basis of false promises, and these women are lured by unique opportunities at luxurious hotels and restaurants, but once they arrive in their destinations documents are taken and they are pushed to work in the prostitution sector. There are also cases in which social vulnerability, drug addiction and blackmailing works as central factors that contribute to the trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The Dominican Republic is also in the top 10 countries visited with the purpose of sex tourism. Not coincidentally, in these countries the index of human trafficking is high. The Global Slavery index shows that in the Dominican Republic at least 42.000 people are victims of forced labor, including sexual exploitation.
Research from ECPAT from 2022 shows that 400.000 children in the Dominican Republic were not in school in 2018 and 2019. The report shows that being away from school puts children at easier risk of being abused or sexually exploited by adults.
A 2022 report from the International Labor Organization about modern slavery estimates that 6.3 million people are in situations of forced commercial sexual exploitation at any point in time worldwide.
The idea of sex tourism becomes more problematic when considering the role of colonialism and international media in constructing this objectifying image women: “They (north Americans and Europeans) have this understanding that European and American women are in a different level of behavior and morality”, says Fabiana Bandeira, historian and researcher of carnival and sex tourism in Brazil.
Brazil is known as one of the world’s biggest sex tourism sites, especially during carnival. In the late 60’s and 70’s, popular tourism agencies like Embratur explored the image of women as a tourist attraction: “The propagandas made in the 70’s are appealing to this image of women at the beach, bikinis, butts… all of that put in an official propaganda”, says Bandeira. She states that even nowadays in Brazil there are tourism agencies that meet the demand of tourists looking for sexual activities.
Until the publication date of this article, it was not proven that these establishments in the Dominican Republic are in fact promoting illegal activities. The Groningen Observer is in contact with the local press and local justice system to continue the investigation.