Child Prostitution

“Child prostitution means the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration”

Source : article 2 b) - Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography – 2000
prostitution enfantine

Child prostitution does not necessarily imply a monetary transaction. Children can also be exploited through prostitution when sexual acts are exchanged for goods and services such as housing, food, a promise of protection, or for favors such as better grades in school. However, a child does not make a choice to engage in prostitution, rather, a child is driven to it by circumstances, values, social norms or abusive individuals. It is adults who create “child prostitution” trough their demand for children as sexual objects, their misuse of power, and their desire for profit. In this sense, the terms “child prostitute or “child sex worker” misrepresent reality, as they imply that a child has somehow made a choice to engage in prostitution. 

 A global phenomenon 

Child prostitution is a global problem which has continued to intensify over the last decades. Affecting more particularly developing countries, this form of child sexual exploitation can however be found in all countries of the world.

Asia has long been a continent affected by child prostitution. Many countries are affected such as Thailand, Cambodia, The Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, China, etc. In 2009, in India, according to the country’s federal police, around 1.2 million children were believed to be involved in prostitution. [1]

Latin America is also severely affected, especially because the continent has the highest number of abandoned children or children who fled their homes. Countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, amongst others, are largely concerned by this issue. In Mexico, for instance, more than 16 000 children are victims of prostitution, especially within tourist destinations. [2]

In Africa, even though it is hard to assess the situation with accuracy, child prostitution is believed to be increasing in many countries, On this continent, many cultural taboos remain around the topic of sexual exploitation of children. Among the list of most affected countries, some include The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya, and Senegal. In South Africa, for instance, between 28 000 and 38 000 children are estimated to be victims of prostitution.[3]

 In the Middle-East and in North Africa, many children are victims of prostitution, especially in Morocco and Egypt. Moreover, the lack of statistical evidence contributes to increase the uncertainty around the actual scope of sexual exploitation within these areas.

In Eastern Europe, since the collapse of soviettype regimes, child prostitution is increasing and occurs in the streets, bars, railway stations and roads.  Many countries are concerned such as Hungary, The Czech Republic, countries of the former Yugoslavia, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania. In Lithuania, it is estimated that between 20 and 50% of individuals involved in prostitution are minors. [4]

Prostitution of minors also occurs within western countries. All European capitals as well as every major city in America are affected by this problem. Although these cities are usually the point of arrival of international human trafficking routes, child victims are not only foreigners but also nationals in these countries.

 Key findings in France 

There is no reliable data to estimate the number of child victims of prostitution on French soil. According to organizations, the estimated number is between 6 000 and 10 000 girls and boys. Public authorities often downplay the importance of the situation, but actors on the ground face, on a daily basis, the reality of such exploitation and the increasing number of victims.

 Countries of origin of victims of prostitution in France (non exhaustive) 

In most cases, child prostitution in France leads to two different situations:

  • Foreign minors coming from Eastern Europe and Africa, who for the most part, depend upon human trafficking networks.

According to gathered information, girls mainly come from Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, The Czech Republic, Albania) and Africa (particularly Nigeria and Ghana). As for boys, they mainly come from Eastern Europe (especially Romania); however, they can also be from the Maghreb region or Africa.

  • Minors, either French or foreigners, forced to prostitute themselves in order to survive (“survival prostitution”.)

[1] [2] La explotación sexual de niños y niñas en México, Elena Azaola Garrido, 2003. [3] [4] UNICEF, Profiting From Abuse: An Investigation into the Sexual Exploitation of our Children, 2001.

[5] Adrienne O’Deye et Vincent Joseph, cabinet Anthropos, “La prostitution de mineurs à Paris: données, acteurs et dispositifs existants”, octobre 2006.

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