child rights cambodia prostitution
11 years old, male – Ganster. (Phnom Penh-Cambodia)

Sexual abuse and exploitation of children

Sexual Exploitation – when a second party benefits from sexual activity involving a child, whether male or female, through money, profit or any other consideration.

Child prostitution – The use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration. It includes offering, obtaining, procuring or providing a child for child prostitution. (Optional Protocol to CRC on Sale, Prostitution and Pornography of Children, Art. 2)

Child sex tourism is the commercial sexual exploitation of children by foreigners. It usually refers to:
   1. persons who travel from their own country to another to engage in sexual acts with children, or
   2. Foreigners who engage in sexual activity with a child while overseas.
It often involves a third party who procures a child from local communities. Child sex tourism usually occurs in less developed countries. Child sex tourism exists in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Islands. (CHILD WISE)

Child pornography – Any representation of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes. It includes producing, distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting, offering, selling or possessing child pornography for the purposes of sexual exploitation. (Optional Protocol to CRC on Sale, Prostitution and Pornography of Children, Art. 3)

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is one of the worst forms of child labour and a modern form of slavery. Sexually exploited children are often treated as criminals. As defined in the Declaration of the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm in 1996, commercial sexual exploitation of children is sexual abuse by an adult accompanied by remuneration in cash or in kind to the child or third person(s). The commitments made in Stockholm were reaffirmed in Yokohama, Japan, in 2001 at the Second World Congress.

Sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities reluctant to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitation. These attitudes make children more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Myths, such as the belief that HIV/AIDS can be cured through sex with a virgin, technological advances such as the Internet which has facilitated child pornography, and sex tourism targeting children, all add to their vulnerability.

Facts and figures
  • According to a recent global estimate by the International Labour Organization, of the 12.3 million people who are victims of forced labour, 1.39 million are involved in forced commercial sexual exploitation and 40–50 per cent are children.
  • Many of these children are either sold into prostitution to pay off family debts or forcibly recruited on the street to work in brothels, where they are required to have sex with as many as 30 men each day. Some prostituted children are just 5 years old.
  • Sex tourists travel to countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil, expecting anonymity, low-cost prostitution, easily accessible children and impunity from prosecution. Notably, it is estimated that one-third of the prostitutes in Cambodia are children.
  • An estimated 12,000 Nepalese children, mainly girls, are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation each year within Nepal or to brothels in India and other countries.
  • From 28,000 to 30,000 children under the age of 18, approximately half of them 10–14 years old, are used in prostitution in South Africa.
  • Surveys indicate that 30 to 35 per cent of all sex workers in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia are between 12 and 17 years of age.
  • Mexico’s social service agency reports that there are more than 16,000 children engaged in prostitution, with tourist destinations being among those areas with the highest number.
  • In Lithuania, 20 to 50 percent of prostitutes are believed to be minors. Children as young as age 11 are known to work as prostitutes. Children from children’s homes, some 10 to 12 years old, have been used to make pornographic movies.
World Vision:
Child Wise:

Definition: Optional Protocol to CRC on Sale, Prostitution and Pornography of Children: