Definition. Child prostitution means the use of children in sexual activities with the objective of obtaining profits or other kind of compensations such as gifts, food or clothing. This type of activities can also be called as sexual exploitation. Abused children usually are forced to work in the streets or in establishments like brothels, discos, massage parlors, bars, hotels or restaurants. Child prostitution affects both girls and boys. According to experts of important institutions against child abuse such as CPIU, in some countries, such as the United States, child prostitution can even be included in the distribution or dissemination of images of minors engaged in sexual activities and, of course, this is considered illegal.
Causes of Child Prostitution
Poverty: this is the main cause of prostitution. Often, families feel forced to sell their children to traffickers due to their low incomes, which are not enough to meet their basic needs. Poverty can also lead to abandonment. This rejection makes the children abandon their family atmosphere and live in the streets. Because of their vulnerability and needs, children become the perfect target of manipulators who promise work and remuneration.
Money: prostitution is a very lucrative activity compared with the level of local wages in many countries. In Kenya, for example, a sexual encounter with a girl under 16 years old may cost about 20 euros. Nevertheless, prices can reach 60 euros, while a common Kenyan earns on average only four euros a day.
Orphans: wars, natural disasters and diseases such as HIV/AIDS contribute to the increasing number of orphans worldwide each year. Because their vulnerability, these children accept any kind of jobs. That is why prostitution becomes a mean of survival, since it is a high lucrative activity compared to other denigrating or dangerous work.
Child trafficking: constantly, around the world, a large and alarming number of children are abducted and forced into prostitution business against their will.
The growth of the sex market: during the last 40 years, the sex industry has been systematized and disseminated through different and new ways of communication, contributing to the development of prostitution and, even worse, to increase and normalize pornography.
Children who are victims of sexual exploitation suffer not only from physical injuries, but emotional trauma. They are vulnerable to manipulation which takes them to perform acts that they do not want to do. After that, a terrible consequence can be the loss of trust in adults and promises. They believe that society abandoned and rejected them letting them with no hope or support. Sexual exploitation has also a negative impact on the physical status of children.
Legal help. There are several international standards dealing with children’s justice and they explain how different states and countries should proceed in their judicial system to treat affected children. These legal aspects can be found in:
· Convention on the Rights of the Child.
· UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency.
· Minimum Rules of the United Nations for the Administration of Juvenile Justice.
· Manual on Justice in Matters Involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime.