The Commercial Sexual Exploitation
The term commercial sexual exploitation of children
(or CSEC) is used to describe the various activities
that exploit children for their commercial value
including child sex tourism, child prostitution,
child pornography and the trafficking of children
for sexual purposes. The term implies that the
child is not only sexually abused but that there
is a profit arising from the transaction- in cash
or kind- where the child is considered to be a
sexual and commercial object. CCSEC is enshrined
in Articles 34 and 35 of the UN Convention on
the Rights of the Child. - Articles 34 and 35.
CSEC describes an age-old practice that exists
to some degree in every society. However there
has been a rapid expansion of CSEC in the last
decade making it a problem of global proportions.
Although it is impossible to verify how many children
are involved in commercial sexual exploitation,
recent research and anecdotal evidence shows the
numbers continue to increase. It is estimated
millions of children are affected. Large well
organised child sex industries have emerged in
the poorer nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America
and more recently CSEC has developed in Eastern
Europe, the Pacific region and Indo-China. Increasing
numbers of young people in developed countries
are at risk of experiencing sexual exploitation
and abuse. Current trends include:
- More offenders are seeking out new destinations
for child sex tourism.
- More offenders are sexually exploiting children
through the Internet by luring children, exchanging
information and distributing child pornography.
- More children and young people in developed
countries are exchanging sex for survival.
- More children are being trafficked across
new routes, borders and between continents.
The children/young people susceptible
to commercial sexual exploitation are both girls
and boys, although primarily girls, aged from
10 to 18. According to the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child, child refers to a person
aged under 18 years of age unless otherwise specified
by the law of the country.
The causes of CSEC are complex and involve many
interrelated factors. Many children entering child
sex industries come from poor rural families or
are homeless children living on the street. They
may be sold by someone they know to a procurer,
arrive in a city with false expectations and be
forced into the sex industry, be mislead about
the nature of their work, or be abducted. Children
and young people may also become involved to support
their families, to supplement their income from
other sources, to meet their survival and daily
needs or are sexually exploited because they have
no protection or shelter. Other risk factors include
histories of abuse, drug use, insecure income
and unemployment, difficult family background,
a lack of viable choices and isolation within
society. There is great diversity in the circumstances
and levels of exploitation locally, regionally
There is also great diversity amongst child sexual
offenders. Child sex industries serve both local
and foreign offenders. The vast majority of offenders
are men although women can also abuse children.
The reasons for offending are many and diverse
but offenders generally fall into one of two categories:
situational offenders and preferential offenders.
The situational or opportunistic offender does
not have a true sexual preference for children,
but engages in sex with children for varied and
sometimes complex reasons. The preferential offender
(sometimes called a paedophile) has a definite
sexual preference for children. Their sexual behavior
is highly predictable. They are smaller in numbers
than situational offenders but potentially can
abuse large numbers of children.
Because of this complexity and diversity and interaction
of supply and demand factors, ECPAT Australia's
approach is multi disciplinary incorporating a
variety of strategies to end CSEC.
For further information on CSEC contact
ECPAT Australia with your specific questions.