Exploitation is work, that is dangerous or harmful to children’s physical, psychological and/or emotional well-being and/or interferes with their education. Work, which does not affect children’s health or education, is often recognized as contributing positively to children’s full holistic development.
Articles 32 through 36 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) articulate a child’s right to protection from exploitation, whether economic or sexual.
Article 34: Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC)
“States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity
(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices
(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.”
Commercial sexual exploitation of children - such as the sale of children, child prostitution, child sex tourism and child pornography – is prevalent all over the world. It is the most extreme form of a child/youth abuse through sexual exploitation.
An Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography supplements the Convention by providing States with detailed requirements to end the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It also protects children from being sold for non-sexual purposes – such as other forms of forced labor, illegal adoption and organ donation. www.unicef.org/crc/index_30204.html
Did you know ?
° Child exploitation affects one in every eight children in the world – some 179 million children aged 5-17 (ILO 2002)
° Sexual abuse through commercial exploitation is a fundamental violation of the Rights of the child
° An estimated one million children (mainly girls but also a significant number of boys) enter the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade every year, suffering degradation and life-threatening risk
° Exploited and abused refugee children, street children and children involved in hazardous work, is a global problem.
What we can do to make a difference:
- Request that sexual education is part of your school curriculum from 10 years of age and older
- Investigate and denounce abuse from employers and claim your right to be paid properly
- Demand protection from abuse and violence for orphans and street children
- Participate with adults to discuss sexual exploitation through the mass media
- Join organizations or groups that monitor the fulfillment of government commitments to protect children and adolescents
- Demand that governments guarantee the enforcement of laws and also protect the victims of sexual exploitation through rehabilitation programs
- Demand that the governments meet at least once a year at the regional level to discuss the issue of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents and develop common strategies and measurable and time-bound goals by involving organized children and youth groups to strengthen and broaden local mobilization
(Source: III World Congress against sexual exploitation of children and adolescents – Brazil- 2008)
- Demand that your Government and donors commit more resources to strengthen and expand children/youth regional networks and actions against sexual exploitation and to develop campaigns, plans, programs, strategies and policies
- To prevent exploitation via the Internet, install software that protects young people, (e.g. Net Clean) and find out about other tools
- Organize discussions at home and in school
- Demand that the media takes responsibility to teach children how to protect themselves from sexual exploitation through the mass media like children’s magazines, comic strips, drama, TV programs, etc.
- Refer exploited children/young people to special services and shelters that will support their recovery
- Report abuse or seek help from professionals by contacting hotlines, parent education programs or support groups, emergency shelters, in-home services, or family resource centers
A) Child labor, bonded and forced labor, domestic slavery and child soldiers
Child labor is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity and that is harmful to their physical, emotional and psychological development. It includes children in our homes (e.g. domestic workers), our workplaces (e.g. factories) and our communities (e.g. street vendors). www.antislavery.org
In Convention No. 182, the International Labor Organization (ILO) calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor. This is defined as:
- All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery
- Use, procuring of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography
- Use, procuring of a child for illicit activities e.g. drug trafficking
- Work by its nature or circumstance is likely to harm health, safety or morals of a child.
Did you know?
° Across the world 218 million children aged 5-17 are working as child laborers
° 126 million are involved in the worst forms of child labor (bonded labor, forced work in mines, forced agricultural labor, domestic slavery, child soldiers, trafficking, etc.) www.ilo.org/ipec/index.htm
° Many suffer ill-treatment, physical and sexual violence, and verbal or sexual abuse, inflicted by ‘employers’, although perpetrators may also include co-workers, clients, foremen, customers, police, criminal gangs and, in the case of sexual exploitation, pimps. (IPU/Unicef Handbook for Parliamentarians: Eliminating Violence against Children 2007)
Bonded labor is work that a child has to do to pay off a debt to his employer. In India, an estimated 15 million children could be working to pay off someone else’s debt. Bonded child laborers are slaves. The vast majority lives in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh and most are from low-cast families. They live in extreme poverty. Debt bondage is often the way girls enter prostitution. www.ilo.org/ipec/index.htm
Forced work in mines. Chronic poverty drives children underground into mines. Working in a mine or quarry is one of the most dangerous occupations for any child. A million children are working in mines and quarries in more than 50 African, Asian and South American countries. Some have been forced at gunpoint by government troops or rebels to carry loads of extracted minerals. A sick or injured child rarely receives medical attention. They face underground explosions, respiratory problems and sheer exhaustion. Mining often shortens their lives through chronic ill health. (Save the children)
Forced agricultural labor. A daily reality for around 132 million children under the age of 15 around the world. Many are engaged in forced and hazardous activities and are often obligated to work long hours, use sharp tools designed for adults, carry loads too heavy for their immature bodies and operate dangerous machinery. Children working in agriculture also risk exposure to toxic pesticides, dusts, diseases and unsanitary conditions. Agriculture is one of the three most hazardous work sectors –along with mining and construction — in terms of work-related deaths and injuries. This is especially true for children, whose lack of experience or training and still-developing bodies make them particularly vulnerable. (FAO 2006)
Domestic slavery. Typically, girls clean other people’s houses instead of going to school. To meet the growing urban demand for young domestic workers, young girls are recruited from poor rural areas. The majority must work extremely hard and some children are brutally exploited as domestic slaves. They earn little and are often physically and psychologically punished by their employers. Some are as young as six years old. (Save the children)
Child soldiers. A child soldier is any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity. This is including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers and anyone accompanying such groups, other than family members. The definition includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and for forced marriage. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms.
Art. 38.3 CRC: States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavor to give priority to those who are oldest.
Many children are abducted, but they also volunteer to fight – for many reasons, including a desire for revenge or power, loyalty to a cause, or desperate need for protection. Adults frequently exploit children to fight their wars. An estimated number of 300’000 children under the age of 15 are associated with fighting forces. Some are just seven years old and work as soldiers, transporters, and mine detectors (every month 800 children are killed or become handicapped by mines). (Save the children)
- Commemorate the World Day Against Child Labor on 12 June each year
B) Sale of children
Sale of children means any act or transaction whereby a child is transferred by any person or group of persons to another for remuneration or any other consideration. (Article 2 of the Optional Protocol)
An Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by the General Assembly Resolution A/RES/54/263 of 25 May 2000 and entered into force on 18 January 2002.
Article 11 (1) Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) ”States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.”
- Be cautious of opportunities that seem too good to be true
C) Child prostitution
Child prostitution means the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration.
(Article 2 of the Optional Protocol)
Did you know?
° It is estimated that at least 1.8 million children are sexually exploited in prostitution
° In India, according to a survey, there are between 400,000 and 500,000 child prostitutes
° In Mexico, according to a study, some 16,000 children are believed to be sexually exploited
D) Child pornography
Child pornography means any representation, by whatever means, 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.
(Article 2 of the Optional Protocol)
Did you know?
° 90 per cent of children aged 8-16 who have access to Internet have viewed pornographic sites while doing their homework
° A Google search on the word ‘porn’ returned over 80 million pages
° 2.5 billion pornographic emails flood the web daily (8 per cent of total emails)
- Demand that Internet filtering programs are provided to protect children and adolescents from pornography and child abuse images
E) Child sex trafficking
Child trafficking is a modern form of slavery that involves displacing a child for the purpose of exploitation. A child, considered to be merchandise, can be moved from one country to another or within a country’s own borders. This can be for exploitation that includes, at a minimum, prostitution as well as other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, the servitude or removal of internal organs. (International Bureau for Children’s Rights, Canada)
At the international level, the Palermo Protocol defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
Under international law, trafficking is a crime involving the movement of children and their exploitation. The movement may be voluntary or coerced; the relocation maybe across borders or within a country; and the exploitation can take several different forms: labor, prostitution, and, in some cases, for use in armed conflicts. (ILO/IPEC definition 2002). Children may also be trafficked for exploitation for a range of different purposes (domestic work, restaurant and building site work, sex work, and use for criminal purposes such as drug trafficking).
Did you know?
° Around the world between 50 and 60 per cent of the children who are trafficked into sexual slavery are under the age of 16 (UNICEF)
° Human trafficking is the second largest organized crime in the world. Children are not only abducted by traffickers, but also sold or lent to potential employers by their parents
How to tell the difference between traffiking and smuggling?
(International Bureau for Children’s Rights, Canada)
• Implies the use of force, fraud or coercion
• Includes the exploitation of a victim
• Results in a legal or illegal entry in a country
• Includes internal as well as external trafficking
• Implies the displacement of the victim
• Consent is required from the individual
• Involves illegal entry into the country
• Implies passing between international borders
• Allows freedom to move after arrival at the destination
F) Child sex tourism
Child sex tourism (CST) is the commercial sexual exploitation of children by people who travel from one place to another to engage in sexual acts with minors. Often, child sex tourists travel from a richer country to one that is less developed, or they may be travelers within their own countries or region. (Ecpat International)
Child sex tourists often travel to developing countries looking for anonymity and the availability of children in prostitution. The crime is typically fuelled by weak law enforcement, corruption, the Internet, ease of travel and poverty.
In an effort to counteract CST, many governments have enacted laws to allow prosecution of its citizens for child abuse that occurs outside of their home country. Victims of child sex abuse are at greater risk of being involved in commercial sexual exploitation as a means to survive. CST is a shameful assault on the dignity of children and a form of violent child abuse.
The sexual exploitation of children has devastating consequences, which may include long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possibly death.
Studies indicate that child prostitutes serve between two and thirty clients per week. Younger children, many below the age of 10, have been increasingly drawn into serving tourists.
Some private sector tourism companies, such as Accor and Kuoni, have signed a Code of Conduct for the Protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. Accor Asia signed the Code of Conduct in 2002 to protect children in hotels in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam. (Ecpat)
Did you know?
° At any time, an estimated 1.8 million children are being sexually exploited for profit across the world. They are forced by adults into prostitution, the porn industry, and sex tourism
° Most child sex tourists are from ‘developed’ countries
° The Internet is used increasingly to make contact with children
- Learn about signs of potential trafficking on the Internet