Prostitution refers to the act or practice of offering sexual services to another person in return for payment or other favors. Prostitution is illegal in most countries of the world but is still legal in some countries. Different countries treat prostitution and prostitutes differently and the legality of prostitution activities varies from country to country. In some countries, the governments prohibit prostitution and punish all people caught involved in these activities. In other countries, the governments are committed to abolish prostitution. Some allow prostitution but regulate its activities while in some other countries, there is decriminalization of prostitution and people carry out prostitution activities just like any other job. In any of these cases, prostitution is a crime and is associated with other crimes. Like any other form of prostitution, child prostitution is common in the world and children mostly enter into this business because they are forced by circumstances or people especially their parents or guardians. Child Sex tourism is also common. In this type of tourism, tourists engage minors of the country they visit in sexual activity. People also traffic children across international borders for purposes of sexual exploitation. Both Child trafficking and sex tourism contribute to child prostitution in foreign countries. About 900, 000 children are trafficked across international borders each year and people hold them in brothels or in other places for sexual exploitation. The problem of sex servitude affects both male and female children. People prefer to practice child prostitution in foreign countries for various reasons. Child prostitution is a world problem that requires both national and international attention.
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Many factors lead to child prostitution in many countries of the world. These include misery, poverty, unemployment of either the child or the parent, human trafficking, dysfunctional family environment, deception, poor education, AIDS scare, drug abuse and addiction, incest, rape, early exposure of children to sexual activities, and internet. Some governments also use child prostitution through sex tourism to promote tourism thus gain foreign exchange. They do this either directly or indirectly. These governments are those that are struggling economically. They usually assume acts of child prostitution and thus allow this evil act to attract more tourists and boost their tourism industry. Internet and child pornography serves as a major marketing tool that promotes child prostitution. People post on websites the experiences about child sex in different places and the costs involved. They also share child pornography through such websites thus encouraging not only child sex tourism but also child trafficking for sexual purposes.
Poverty ranks high as a major factor that forces children to be prostitutes. This is common in poor countries affected by poor economies and wavering politics. In this situation, voluntarily becomes prostitutes or their parents force them into prostitution to provide financial needs of the family. This is common in most developing countries. Lack of viable sources to support the rising needs of people in these countries makes the children vulnerable to such exploitation. The families in poverty-stricken areas also become easy targets for procurement agents who are seeking for children to sell them into sexual slavery in brothels or various homes in the world. Child labor in poverty-stricken areas also exposes the children to prostitution. When parents or other agents send children to streets to hawk items, they expose their children, especially female children, to sexual harassment and rape.
Human trafficking and deception are other factors that cause child prostitution especially in foreign countries. Human trafficking is a criminal activity in which some people purport to send teenagers to foreign countries to work but end up becoming prostitutes in their new destinations. Some brothel owners or procurement agents sometimes deceive parents by paying them money and promising them that their children will work in domestic chores but these children end up in prostitution. The brothel owners control the child’s activities and do everything they can to maintain those who help them earn a lot of money. Sometimes hard times hit and these children are deported back to their countries where they continue with their prostitution activities.
Dysfunctional family environments also play an important role in forcing children into prostitution. Such children do not get sufficient parental care and wander around looking for places to find solace. Such children end up in night discos and in other places, which expose them to early involvement in sexual activities. In the end, these children end up trading on their own bodies in order to support themselves. Incest and rape generally changes the children’s outlook in life and make some children to give room for prostitution. Some children become rebellious and defiant of the instructions given by their parents and feel independent. They demand for freedom to do what they want with their bodies. This leads most of them into prostitution. Drug abuse by these children also aggravates the problem by subjecting the children to prostitution and making them compromise situations they cannot when they are in their sound mind. Some children also engage in prostitution due to pleasure and continue in it because of the pleasure they derive from these acts.
Criminals organize the sex industry in the world and use children in prostitution for their own gain. The demand of young girls and boys in some countries also contributes to the growth of this problem as more children face trafficking to work in foreign countries as sex slaves. The increasing demand of foreign sex in many people aggravates this problem. Some customers also fear sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS and thus engage children in prostitution believing that they are of low risk. Poor law enforcement in other countries also aggravates this problem.
Child prostitution is common in virtually all countries of the world. Pimps, brothels and other criminal networks collaborate to traffic about 900, 000 children across borders for sexual exploitation and servitude every year. This is not only the problem of poor countries but it is common even in rich and developed countries. Sex tourism also combines with child trafficking to make this lucrative business of child prostitution to flourish. People usually employ networks of small groups to carry out activities like recruitment, transportation, advertising and retail of trafficked children for the purposes of sex exploitation in foreign countries. These groups often achieve major success because they require little capital to start up and prosecution by the countries involved is relatively rare. The major sources and destinations of sex tourism and child trafficking for sexual exploitation in foreign countries include Thailand, Japan, Israel, China, Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Nigeria, Italy, Brazil and Ukraine among others. Of these countries, Thailand and Brazil are the leading in perpetuating the business of child prostitution. Even though prostitution and child sex exploitation is illegal in Brazil, from 200, 000 to 2 million children aged between eight and sixteen years are forced into prostitution in this country (Charles, 2010).
The children involved in prostitution face many challenges and there are many effects associated with this child prostitution. Mostly, the pimps and brothel operators direct the activities of these children and they do not give them freedom of choice. This makes the children to work against their wishes. They also rarely give these children rest from their work. The pimps also give the children little food and this coupled with the high amount of work they do makes these children weak and sometimes may lead to death of the children. Child prostitution is also economically unsound and causes the child moral and physical harm as well as psychological trauma.
Those who use children in prostitution activities usually do not well address their health issues. The children also risk attack from many sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS, syphilis, meningitis, anemia, tuberculosis, and others. This further weakens the health of these children and some lead to their death. Because child prostitution is an illegal business, some brothel owners or pimps fear taking the children to hospitals for treatment or regular checkups. In case they suspect a disease in any of the children, these brothel owners employ quark doctors who sometimes prescribe wrong medication for these children. As a result, the children live with a load of diseases and other health disorders, which give them problems throughout their lives. Such children especially girls are forced to enter into early child bearing and sometimes, family responsibilities. This makes those schooling to drop out of school and thus become less equipped for the labor market (Ringold, 2000). The girls used in child prostitution are forces to carry out frequent abortions. Unqualified doctors who also use poor methods and equipment in wrong environments often carry out these abortions. This further endangers the life of the child and deteriorates the child’s health.
Child prostitution also causes a lot of psychological and emotional stress to the children involved in these practices. Children in this case lose their self-esteem and give up in life. Some of the children get permanent physical damage, which they unwillingly live with. Such children do not have any confidence to engage in any other work except crime related jobs. Child prostitution is also associated with other crimes like drug trafficking and abortions. The more they get involved in other crimes, the more their morals deteriorate. They live in constant fear of raids by people and the police.
Thailand has the worst record of child prostitution in the world. Even though prostitution is illegal in this country, it still takes place publicly or privately and sometimes the government regulates it. Large international criminal syndicates traffic children from other countries to Thailand and/or sends some children to other countries to work as prostitutes. Sex tourism in Thailand also contributes substantially to the problem of child prostitution. People coerce children from the age of 10 years into prostitution or some parents sell their own children into sex slavery knowingly or unknowingly. (Sorajjakool, 2003; Pusurinkham, n.d.). Poverty plays a major role in engaging minors into prostitution in Thailand. The children used in prostitution in this country come from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, China, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Thailand also traffics children to Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Europe, Canada, South Africa, Singapore and Bahrain for sexual exploitation. The children are kept in brothels, which are sometimes surrounded by electric fence thus making it hard for the children to escape. Pimps give the girls harsh treatment and brutally beat those who are not cooperative sometimes to death.
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Ending child prostitution in Thailand has been a challenge because of lack of commitment from most of the stakeholders and the Thai government. Currently, having sex with girls below fifteen years of age is illegal under Thai law. However, child prostitution still exists in Thailand due to corruption of the government and political leaders. This issue makes the government and political systems to overlook or minimize the problem of child prostitution. The offenders often bribe police officers and politicians to protect them against prosecution. Even though this is the case, the government is striving to do away with child prostitution. It is doing this in association with nongovernmental organizations and other international organizations. The concern is to end sex tourism in Thailand and prevent child trafficking both into and out of the country for purposes of sexual exploitation and servitude.
Brazil, China, Nigeria and Zimbabwe also have notable cases of child prostitution in foreign countries. These are destinations for child trafficking as well as sources of children trafficked to other countries for sexual exploitation. Sex tourists also find these destinations appropriate for their activities.
Child prostitution in most countries of the world is illegal but still there are many instances of child sex molestation. Most governments are committed to end this problem of child prostitution both in their countries and in foreign countries. There are also many of non-governmental organizations and international organizations involved in reducing the practices of child prostitution in the world. These organizations include End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Tourism Organization, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) among many other international, regional and national organizations.
ECPAT is an international organization based in Thailand. This organization was founded in 1991 with the goal of eradicating child prostitution in the world. The organization’s plan is to persuade governments to enact laws to protect children against both local and international prostitution. After the governments have enacted these laws, ECPAT then ensures that these governments enforce these laws. The organization also persuades parents through their local leaders not to sell their children into prostitution (Hancock, n.d). It also discourages sex tourism and convinces governments to accept extra-territorial laws that allow prosecution of foreign citizens who sexually abuse minors in the country where they commit the offence. This means that sex tourists who use children in any foreign country will face judgment in the country where they commit the crime while they are on their tour. Some other human rights organizations gives information to parents in poor, rural areas about the tribulations and molestations the children go through in the places they sell them. They do this by use of photos, videos, and/or radios. This is what takes place in Thailand.
UNICEF is a United Nation’s organization concerned with the welfare of children. The organization works in many countries to help vulnerable children grow to early adulthood without many avoidable problems. The organization sometimes works with other NGOs in some countries to help it achieve its goals. UNICEF through its conventions sets principles and guidelines for countries to follow in combating child prostitution. The organization then asks and helps countries to commit to their action plans in protecting children. They do this regionally or in individual countries. For example, UNICEF’s second World Congress against Commercial Exploitation of Children set out guidelines and some countries made commitments to develop national plans of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children. A number of countries in the Eastern and Central African region made commitments to this strategy. These countries include Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Mauritius and Angola (UNICEF, 2001). Many of these countries face the problem of child prostitution both in the local countries and in foreign countries.
Taking an example of Kenya, this country committed itself to the development of a national plan of action on commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Through this commitment, the country has formulated policies, programs and activities to help it to achieve the goal (UNICEF, 2001). This has made the country to engage NGOs in the fight against child molestation and sexual exploitation. The NGOs have involved children in the production of drama on child sexual abuse to raise awareness about this issue. The country has also formed the children department in one of its ministries to protect children. The new constitution of that country has comprehensively covered and clearly outlined the rights of children. The country’s government with the help of children rights groups has established strong regional co-operation with other countries. This is helping in checking child prostitution in foreign countries in this region and the world at large.
In conclusion, child prostitution is a common problem in many countries of the world. In this practice, the children engage in sexual activity for monetary gain especially by the adults who either are their parents or their caretakers. Some children enter into prostitution due to the hard situations they face while others ere sold into sexual servitude by their parents either consciously or unconsciously. Child prostitution in foreign countries is also a common practice. People do this through sex tourism and child trafficking. Most people practice child prostitution in foreign countries either because they want to avoid the laws of their countries by breaking law in foreign countries or because they misunderstand the people of the countries that they visit. Child prostitution is a multi billion business in the world that leads to wastage of many children’s lives. In some countries, cultural practices contribute to the involvement of children in prostitution. Large and small criminal groups arrange for Trans boundary transfer of children and clients involved in child prostitution. Even though many human rights groups are against this immoral behavior, some governments have not fully committed themselves to eradicating this problem from their countries. Still there is much demand of foreign children for sex in some countries making the business of child trafficking and sex tourism to flourish. In whichever the case, children prostitution is a criminal offence and all people and especially governments need to fight to eradicate this problem from the society.