Wednesday, February 08, 2006

There Ought To Be A Law

Back in 1962, in the September 16 issue of the Nation, writer Marilyn Bender Altschul expressed concern about the potential for abuses in the child modeling industry in an article titled Exploiting The Model Child. As with many issues, modern technologies have added an entirely new dimension to such concerns. However, while modern technologies have indeed supplied the means to bring such exploitation to new heights, there seems to be a much more insidious set of social factors at play.

On January 13, 2006, USA Today published a column by Andrew Kantor in which the writer made mention of the growth of a disturbing industry, a certain type of Internet child modeling site. These sites have not garnered much media time since they came to the attention of Representative Mark Foley, who introduced legislation in 2002 in an attempt to combat them. The child modeling sites rightly targeted by Representative Foley seem geared to adults with sexual interests in children. They feature girls that look as young as 7 or 8 years of age, according to the practiced eye of this parent of two little girls, as well as girls into their teens. These girls are often in poses that mimic those seen in the “adult” sex industry.

Some of the child modeling sites were driven out of business or pushed underground by the media attention that came as a result of Representative Foley’s unsuccessful Child Modeling Exploitation Prevention Act of 2002. However, as media attention and public outrage faded, this troubling child modeling genre was able to flourish again, unhampered by law. According to Julie Posey of Pedowatch.com, an informational site about child sexual abuse, some adult pornography sites advertise (i.e., provide links to) the child model sites, using such promotional phrases as “Can Jail Bait Be This Hot?” and “Sexy Pre-Teen Will Pose However You Like.”

These types of child modeling sites, as pointed out in the USA Today article, “have some sort of disclaimer: "I have my parents' permission" and so on, and most profess rather loudly "You won't find any nudity here!" and charge a fee to move beyond the initial pages, offering monthly subscription rates. The ‘free samples’ are themselves disturbing, described by Kantor as “pushing the envelope a bit with see-through clothes and carefully placed hands or props (technically remaining non-nude).”

Having looked at the free samples on a couple of the more popular sites, I shudder to think what it is that paying customers receive. It was both sickening and shocking to see barely dressed little girls in poses traditionally associated with the pornographic - on hands and knees in the mouth open bottom up porno classic pose, barely dressed in leather, mimicking bondage scenes by appearing to be topless while wrapped in yellow crime-scene type plastic tape, crotch shots, touching themselves in a manner that seems staged to be provocative. However, knowing that these sites operate in a legal gray area so as to remain undisturbed by law enforcement is far beyond shocking, well past sickening. It is completely disgraceful.

The rather weak explanation for these particular sites is that they exist to promote aspiring models. However, according to comments from model agencies quoted in a September 23, 2002, article by Doug Thompson, it is highly unlikely that these girls will ever obtain mainstream modeling work by utilizing such sites, despite the devoted fan clubs, chat rooms and collector-trader groups that spring up around individual models.

"Talent agencies don't look at these sites," a spokesman for Next Models, of New York, said, as quoted by Thompson. "They look at portfolios produced by professional photographers and submitted by the models or their agents." According to Thompson, “another modeling agency representative says that once a young model shows up on a child model site she can kiss any serious modeling career goodbye. "We stay away from these girls," she said. "There's too much potential for trouble."”

Sad, but true, according to child psychologist Dorothy Grange, as quoted in Thompson’s article. These are frequently very troubled young ladies. Grange has treated children exploited in this manner, and cited studies specifically about child models that indicated “more than half lose their virginity by age 14.” She spoke of her own child model clients, girls who’d been molested, who’d began having sex at 12, and another who was pregnant by 12.

"Those who are still virgins admit to mutual masturbation and/or oral sex with older men," said Dr. Oswald Ruttan (another psychologist that treats child models who is cited in the article) of his clients. "It is much more common than the child modeling industry is willing to admit,” Dr. Ruttan said, referring to child sexual abuse in the industry. He said further that “pedophiles often made good child photographers” and that “parents who exploit their children’s sexuality can, and do, carry it to the next level” (i.e., moving beyond sexually exploitive photographs to actual physical sexual abuse).

The publication that Thompson writes for, according to his article, “conducted a random check of the 100 photographers who run the highest-traffic child model sites and found that 37 had been convicted of sex crimes involving minors and another 22 had been charged but not convicted.”

In addition to contributing to the sorrows of individual children featured on them, these sites seem to be a public menace as well, according to Thompson, who wrote: “Statistics compiled by the FBI and state and local police departments show more than 75 percent of those arrested on pedophilia or child sexual abuse charges in the last five years have visited Internet sites which features teen and pre-teen models.”

"They [these types of child modeling sites] skirt the law by avoiding explicit pornography,” said Dr. Grange, as quoted by Thompson. “But they are selling a sexual fantasy that appeals to pedophiles. Every time I see another child go missing, I wonder if whoever grabbed her was visiting some of these web sites.” She went on to add that she’s “interviewed a number of sexual offenders who admit visiting the sites.”

How these sites manage to “skirt the law” is difficult for me to understand. Our nation’s founding fathers certainly did not intend the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and press clause to protect such pictures, which, according to the writer of the USA Today article, “no magazine, porn or otherwise, would publish,” as well as the videos hawked on these teen model sites. Not too many years ago, even the Supreme Court would have dismissed out of hand any claim that the First Amendment protects such material. Today, however, the judicial guardians of our nation’s new “living, evolving” Constitution have held that even sexually explicit and highly injurious “pseudo child porn” enjoys First Amendment protection. Unlike “pseudo child porn,” however, which does not depict actual children, with “child modeling” websites children are being sexually exploited.

I cannot imagine why, in light of the case studies and statistics that clearly demonstrate the potential for serious harm, as well as the nature of the pictures themselves, child protective services are not poring over those photos and tracking down each and every one of the parents who have agreed to allow sexually exploitive, staged to be provocative, photos of their children to be taken and sold.

Why would any parent allow this? Certainly, it could be related to a sexualized media that has eroded standards of common decency, making such displays of flesh commonplace. One has only to pick of a copy of almost any teen magazine to see the degree to which this has infiltrated youth culture as well. Add to that the never-ending sexualization of young girls in TV, film, music and RAP. In our popular culture today, the sight of barely dressed, sexualized girls has almost been normalized. In our society, as is apparent from the graphic sex education materials presented to ever younger children in schools, children seem expected to engage in sexual behaviors.

Furthermore, as our culture has coarsened, it has also become more materialistic, shallow and self-centered. These factors, the same factors that contribute to fewer and fewer parents willing to make the sacrifices in standard of living that were commonplace a few generations ago (that’s right, not every family had two cars, designer clothes, a television in every room, and the all latest electronic gadgets) to have one parent at home raising children, make it easier for certain parents to sell away their child’s innocence or to permit their children to sell away their own, capitalizing on the cash of the moment at the expense of something that used to be thought of as far more precious.

There certainly ought to be a law, some real, focused legislation to deal with these types of child modeling sites. Not only do these sites contribute to significant damage to the well-being of the featured children, but they also reveal frightening and ugly things about our society as a whole. I’ve contacted my legislators about this matter, as well as those in Florida, and I hope that you will too.

The Teen Model Web Sites: Modeling or Exploitation?

by Julie Posey

Updated: Saturday, January 29, 2005 18:10

Webmasters are now involved in recruiting large numbers of young people as "teen models.” The Webmaster creates a membership Web site where he or she charges a set fee to those wishing to join. The fee is usually between $9.95-$19.95 per month. After the potential member pays his or her membership dues, he or she is then given access to the photos of the young teen or preteen models. The membership fee allows the member to view the images of children sitting in their underwear, posing in provocative positions and if they are wearing any clothes, they are very revealing clothes that most parents would not approve of their child wearing.

These Web sites display girls as young as seven years old posing provocatively in their underwear or swim wear. Some even go a step further and show the girls nude with their hands covering their private parts.

They enlist the help of the parents of these young people and obtain their permission to photograph or videotape children for their Web sites. Parents and young people are paid from $150 to $500 for allowing the photographer to take pictures or record videos of the children.

Most law enforcement agencies across the United States and other parts of the world consider the content of these sites to be art. The images seen on the public or non-member areas of these sites do not meet the federal guidelines for child pornography.

According to the owners of the Web sites, these are just young innocent girls, who would like to become professional models one day. With their images and portfolios online, talent scouts are more likely to discover them and the girls could actually become professional models one day and in the meanwhile, they can make some money too.

The site owners also claim that there is no connection between these innocent teen models and the adult pornography industry. They say that if anyone other than professional model seekers and talent scouts are looking at these girls with other thoughts in mind, it is their problem.

These sites are marketed through adult pornography sites using such ad slogans as:

Can Jail Bait Be This Hot?
So Sexy You’ll Want to See Her Nude.
Sexy Preteen Will Pose However You Like.
He's so cute that even his mother can't leave him alone,
Hundreds of young people are become victims of sexual exploitation and prostitution with the use of the use of digital cameras and Web cameras.

In one case, a 42-year-old man called himself a high fashion photographer. He was arrested, charged with sexual exploitation of a child, and held on a one million dollar bond after it was discovered that he was operating a child exploitation Web site. It was estimated that the site was generating a monthly income of at least $60,000.

The man recruited young "models" aged 13-17 on his Web site. He would then contact the unsuspecting parents and give them a sales pitch about how their daughters would be paid up to $150 for each modeling session and may be taken to other locations out of state to perform. The parents signed a consent form which the man used to manipulate the girls into believing what they were doing was perfectly legal because they had their parent's permission to perform.

In a pedophile newsgroup, one person wrote about a teen-modeling site, "I kind of wonder if this girl would be looking for sex with a man. She certainly is a very pretty girl. She looks about 9 or 10."

Safety Tips

Use extreme caution when allowing a child to upload or send his picture to anyone online. Never allow nude, sexually explicit, or provocative photos to be placed on a Web site. These photos may not be illegal and may be considered art but a pedophile can double as a stalker very quickly when he finds stimulating material to add to his or her collection of images of children.
Before you allow anyone to photograph or videotape your child, be certain that you know how the images will be used. If the individual promises to place the images on a Web site, ask to see the subscription area of the site.
Check to see if the photographer is associated with a legitimate modeling agency by contacting the nearest Better Business Bureau, the state licensing, or regulation agency in the state where the modeling agency is located. Check with your Department of Public Safety or Bureau of Investigation to inquire about procedures for checking on a criminal history associated with the photographer.
If your child is asked to pose nude or in sexually seductive positions, the agency is not reputable even if they claim to have models featured in magazines and promise the child a profitable career in modeling.
A parent, guardian, or trusted adult should be present during all photo or video sessions. Never allow a photographer to provide transportation to or from a photo or video shooting session when the child is alone with the photographer.
Always remember that if the offer sounds too good to be true, there is probably a catch or some consequences attached to the offer. Many child molesters pay children or their parents enormous amounts of money to insure secrecy while they exploit them.

Children and Prostitution - Part I: Literature review

The stars were still out in the field,
and the child prostitutes plied their trade,
the only happy ones, having learned how unhappiness sticks
and will not risk being traded in for a song or a balloon.
John Ashbery, And the stars were shining, New York, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1994, p. 76



1. Current Literature and its Consequences
The research began with a review of available literature, organised on a regional basis. This had two justifications. In the first place, there appears to be no universal structure of ideas informing discussions on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, which is dispersed among a variety of agencies with a number of disparate objectives and activities varying from law and advocacy to welfare, and even arguments in favour of paedophilia. In the second place, it was clear that certain aspects dominate the discourse in specific regions of the world. The research thus began with a twofold purpose, examining existing discourses for what they might provide in the way of well argued, internally-consistent structures of ideas. In this respect, it has to be made clear from the outset that by 'discourse' we mean clearly distinguishable sets of ideas, publications, speeches and other social products that inform and construct the way people think and act. Any discourse on child commercial sexual exploitation will be related to other discourses -- on childhood, sexuality, exploitation and prostitution, for example. It will produce and reproduce these ideas in ways that tend to reinforce current structures of power and hierarchy. The first task for this review, therefore, was to examine not simply the evidence about the commercial sexual exploitation of children but, more importantly, how it is being produced, reproduced and presented.


1.1. The regional approach

South East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, is the key to any discussion of the commercial sexual exploitation of children because it was the situation in this area in the past two decades that raised public awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children and mobilised public opinion against 'child sex tourists'. The discourse derived from these two countries has set the parameters and tone of the debate. The issues debated with respect to Thailand and the Philippines have become key to the global discussion of child prostitution to the extent that it is impossible to talk about commercial sexual exploitation without reference to them. Thailand and the Philippines have provided much of the mythology and iconography of the commercial sexual exploitation of children so that it is important to look at these two countries in detail in order to understand the origins and the boundaries of the issue.


The role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in particular End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), in raising awareness cannot be underestimated. It is they who first brought the issue to public attention, set the agenda and have continued to dominate the debate. Although the countries for which they mainly campaign are Thailand and the Philippines, they are also concerned with Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Korea. Their work is widely disseminated through both the Western media and national English language press. These NGOs also publish articles widely in the popular press and ECPAT is responsible for two influential books, The Child and the Tourist (O'Grady, 1992) and The Rape of the Innocent (O'Grady, 1994), popular paperbacks designed to appeal to a non-specialist audience. Drawing on ECPAT's success, other groups now campaign against child prostitution but ECPAT remains a central information source. It is rare to find an article on child sexual exploitation in a Western newspaper that does not make reference to ECPAT.

The content of this information follows predictable formulae. A typical example would be a case study of a very young girl forced or tricked into a brothel where she is obliged to service 20 customers a night for very low remuneration. In the story she will be rescued by a welfare agency and sent back to her village, only to discover that she has contracted HIV and will shortly die. It will be stated or implied that it is demand from Western men that causes her to become a prostitute. Aspects of degradation and abuse are repeatedly emphasised, as is the youth of the girl. The language used is often emotive. For example, one report describes 'the lifeless body of an eight year old child, left in a Saigon hotel room after a night of sexual abuse' (ECPAT Newsletter, 1995), while a campaigner told the press 'I still remember vividly the tears in the eyes of the child rescued from a Bangkok brothel who told me how she begged a customer not to harm her, only to have her pleas mercilessly rejected' (Bangkok Post 6/10/93).

In the current campaigning literature, both within South East Asia and in the West, the image of child commercial sexual exploitation is of small children being sought out and exploited by Western tourists. Much press coverage now is concerned with finding and punishing these men (and it is assumed that all sex tourists are male in this geographical region, even though there are reports of female sex tourists in other areas). Yet around the slums of the port of Klong Toey in Bangkok, men who cannot not afford a 'real' (meaning fully grown) woman will find a young girl a reasonable substitute because she is cheaper and easier to control. While this is an aspect of child prostitution that many campaigning groups in Asia would prefer to ignore, it is likely that the majority of young prostitutes are not found in the bars of Bangkok or Manila but in the brothels in the rural areas or the back streets of cities. In many local brothels in Thailand and the Philippines, younger women are said to be prized for their innocence and freshness, while girls even younger are prized for their cheapness (Ennew, 1986; Black, 1994). Even among the better-off Thai men, there is a marked preference for younger girls. A 1994 survey conducted among students, office workers, and residents of a slum area, to assess the impact of HIV on children found that the most desirable age for prostitutes is under 18: 'Many males felt that child prostitutes between 15 and 18 were more desirable than adults, but that it was wrong to sleep with younger ones (under 14)' (Sittitrai and Brown 1994, p. 4).

In other parts of South East Asia, although the discourse is not as influential on the world stage, the issue is also often constructed on the basis of the idea of the foreign male exploiter. There is less information on Vietnam, Cambodia and China but these three countries share the language of 'social evil', which is behaviour or ideas that are contrary to and damaging for national culture. Child prostitution, like AIDS, is described as a problem imported from other cultures, not always the West, or considered in terms of trafficking so that Vietnamese girls, for example, are forced across the border to Cambodia or China without any acknowledgement of indigenous prostitution. China however, adds another component to the picture. Chinese girls are said to be the victims of traffickers, especially young girls from the Yunan region (Centre for the Protection of Children's Rights, 1991) but Chinese men, rather than foreigners, are often blamed for the problem. It is also repeatedly claimed that Chinese men will pay to have penetrative sex with a virgin because this is believed to be a cure for AIDS (Muntabhorn, 1992; O'Grady, 1992; 1994). This is a common assertion in the literature worldwide, even though there is no ethnographic evidence to prove it. In Vietnam and Cambodia in particular, anti-Chinese feeling leads to the repetition of this notion (Thang, 1996).

In addition to the accounts of NGOs and journalists, a relatively small amount of information is produced by anthropologists and sociologists who have worked on limited research projects (Truong, 1982; 1986; 1990; Hantrakul, 1983; Muecke, 1992; Mccaughy & Hou, 1994; Care, 1994; Lie, 1995). The resulting articles and books are concerned with the cultural background, particularly religion and societal norms that can be predisposing factors in encouraging or discouraging children to become prostitutes. In this respect a major issue is the apparent religious sanction given to prostitution by Buddhist values, which stress models of duty and sacrifice for children especially for girls. One argument is that by supporting her family through prostitution a girl gains merit rather than bringing shame on herself and her family, a justification that is frequently manipulated in some areas of the literature. However, these texts are usually published in the academic Western press, with a relatively small circulation among other academics.

One problem in the NGO literature is that the academic literature seems to be largely ignored or unknown. In addition, within the mainstream, campaigning literature, certain categories become blurred. Thus it is a feature of the reporting that:

€child prostitutes are often by implication only girls;

€pre-pubertal and post-pubertal children are often included in the numbers given for child prostitutes along with young women over the age of 18 years;

€numbers given for Western tourist clients are confused with numbers of Western tourists as a whole, with no account given of local clients;

€within the undifferentiated category of child prostitute, the origins of child prostitutes are hidden, obscuring aspects of origin, such as ethnic or socio-economic factors.


A second major geographical focus is South Asia -- India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and, to a lesser extent, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This has three components, the girl child, religious prostitution and trafficking for sexual purposes. The idea of the girl child arose largely through Indian attempts to assign a special space in social philosophy and policy to girls (Williams, 1991). 1990 was named The Year of the Girl Child by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the UNICEF India Office. Two main themes of the year were prevention of child marriages and rehabilitation of child prostitutes. One Indian woman's comment on the material published in the Year of the Girl Child shows the reproductive nature of the information purveyed in the resulting 'spurt of publications':

Many of the papers are clones of earlier ones. The self perpetuations occur through citations being made circular, until a body of knowledge is assumed to have been created. The sum and substance of much of this writing concern the low status of the girl, her limited opportunities for education and the gender bias in the home. The television screen has also sensitized people to the plight of the girl child as a drudge (Aanandalakshmi, 1991, p. 29).

This was not the intention of 'girl child' campaigners such as Sheela Barse, who makes it clear that she is opposed to the 'feminist method of carving out the female persons' group out of the human race and examining it in isolation, on the presumption that females are always wronged' (Barse, 1991, p. 99). Barse states that it is more important to establish that girlhood cannot be the entire province either of womanhood in the women's rights movement, or of childhood in the children's rights movement.

Nevertheless, the notion of the 'girl child' has been reified, as if there is something essential about all female children regardless of wealth or ethnicity, something that makes them more vulnerable than boys in general. This focuses on vulnerability to sexual violation, early marriage, unplanned teenage pregnancy and is a new manifestation of the old control over women's sexuality and fertility. It masquerades as concern for their vulnerability but actually implies that females cannot control their own sexuality, which should consequently be under male control. This is reflected in three approaches to development aid programming for girls:

The link between female education and child survival;

The emphasis on the employment of girls as prostitutes, which is a minor exploiter of girls compared to agriculture, domestic service and manufacture;

The immense silence about the specificity of certain kinds of exploitation that are exclusive to boys.

In India and in Nepal the 'girl child' discourse focuses on religious prostitution (of which devadasi is the best known form) and trafficking in children, while in Bangladesh, the rape of pre-pubertal girls hired as domestic servants is an important theme (Blanchet, 1996, p. 119) . In Pakistan, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier provinces of India, much of the literature on the girl child is legal (see for example Jahangir, 1986). A further concern is the fate of the daughters of prostitutes who on account of social opprobrium are said to be forced into prostitution (Patkar, 1991).

Religious prostitution is practised in various parts of India and Nepal. Devadasi cults are found in Southern India and also practised in other parts of the country such as Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. They derive customary sanction from oppressive upper-caste temple traditions. Pre-pubertal girls, aged between five and nine years, from poor, low-caste homes, are dedicated by an initiation rite to the deity in the local temple during full moon. After a girl is married to the deity by the tali rite, she is branded with a hot iron on both shoulders and her breast. She is then employed by the temple priest. Sometimes, even before menarche, she is auctioned for her virginity; the deflowering ceremony known as udilumbuvadu becomes the privilege of the highest bidder. The market value of a girl falls after she attains puberty, when she is said to have no recourse other than prostitution. Yellama is represented as the principal goddess who is worshipped but, as recent research has shown, the practice of devadasi is prevalent in many other temple towns and other deities such as Meenakshi, Jaganath and Hanuman are also propitiated. Religious prostitution is known by different names such as venkatasani, jogini, nailis, muralis and theradiyan (Bahni, 1989; Marglin, 1985; Mowli, 1992; Story, 1987).

In Nepal, particularly the western parts, religious prostitution known as badini and jhuma is also practised. Although little is known about these practices, they do not seem to vary significantly from devadasi. However, the main sexual exploitation issue in Nepal is the traffic with India, the open border between the two countries making it difficult to monitor (Human Rights Watch, 1995; O'Dea, 1993; Rozario, 1988). It is also stated that, because of corruption, official assistance is given to the sale and the trafficking of young girl (Agroforestry Report, 1990). In most accounts Bombay is given as the main destination. The international trade routes most frequently mentioned are from Nepal and Bangladesh to India, and from India and Pakistan to the Middle-Eastern countries.

In sharp contrast to the emphasis on the 'girl child' in the rest of South Asia, in Sri Lanka the discourse revolves around boys and sex tourism. ECPAT and other advocacy organisations have influenced the discourse here, claiming that male western paedophiles are targeting Sri Lanka because of the availability of boys. For instance, it is argued that, despite the civil war, the number of tourists who visited Sri Lanka increased from 102,000 in 1989 to 169, 000 in 1996, although of course this does not necessarily mean that all tourists are male, let alone sex tourists. According to the literature, the South West coast, Negombo and Hikkawuda are the main destination points. They are close to the beach and some hotels assist paedophiles in procuring boys mostly aged between six and 15 years, although most boy prostitutes in Sri Lanka appear tend to work independently of either brothels or pimps (Bond,1981; Goonesekere & Abeyratne, 1986; Seneviratne, 1991). Although there is evidence of sex tourism in Sri Lanka, the picture is not clear because of the tendency to reproduce information. One case in point is the frequent reference to the role of Spartacus guides, which provide male homosexual tourists with up to date information about the availability of sexual contacts in most countries, and were notorious in the 1980s, particularly with respect to both Sri Lanka and the Philippines, for giving locations where boy prostitutes could be encountered. Despite the fact that the magazine no longer explicitly refers to children, and the then publisher of Spartacus has died, the magazine's role in the sex tourism business is constantly reiterated in popular literature on the commercial sexual exploitation of Sri Lankan boys as if no changes had occurred.

A third major geographical region with a characteristic discourse that influences global debates might be designated the Anglophone West and consists the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe. From the late nineteenth to early twentieth century there was considerable public concern about the 'White Slave Trade'. Many aspects of this earlier discourse are clearly visible in current debates. Nevertheless, modern concern about what is always referred to in the academic literature as 'juvenile' rather than 'child' prostitution resurfaced in the late 1960s alongside the issue of runaway children. Journalists were quick to use labels like baby-pros or, with respect to pornography, 'kiddie porn'. Then, the concern was for children who joined the 'hippie' culture of America's big cities, in particular San Francisco and New York (Deisher et al, 1969; Weisberg, 1985). Britain and Canada, where many of the same social problems as America were reported, but a few years later, experienced similar concerns in the early to mid 1970s (Sereny, 1984; Donovan, 1992).

The earliest indications of a juvenile prostitution 'problem' can be found in the mass media, but academics were also involved from the very beginning (see for example Deisher et al, 1969). In addition, since the late 1960s there have been a number of moral panics about child abuse in North America and Western Europe. Thus interest in juvenile prostitution has come in waves, eclipsed at times, by concerns about 'battered children' or more recently 'satanic' or 'ritual' abuse (La Fontaine, 1990; Jenkins, 1992; Joseph, 1995). Thus, there have been few long term studies of juvenile prostitutes, but rather a flurry of papers and articles at times when interest in the issue is high. Currently, concern is focused on young male prostitutes, because they are seen as vectors for the spread of HIV and research into their lives is conducted along bio-medical models that are concerned with certain areas of behaviour and particular attitudes (National Consultation on Adolescent Prostitution, 1984; Pleak et al, 1990; Snell, 1995). Both academics and journalists have remained interested in the issue of delinquency and deviancy psychology, which it is assumed many young prostitutes share but, again, this is linked to bio-medical models with particular perspectives and limited range (Baizerman et al 1979; Davidson & Loken 1987). Western journalists have a major role in disseminating information about the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Articles on young male prostitutes, often referred to as 'rent boys' in the English language press, as well as young female prostitutes, remain an occasional feature of many newspapers and women's magazines and are presented as campaigning or investigative journalism, while revealing prurient details designed to shock and sensationalise. Popular books written on the issue of child prostitution and pornography are mostly written by journalists with a stated mission to reveal the truth. Playlands (Lloyd, 1977) and Child Pornography (Tate, 1991), two influential books on the subject were both written by journalists and one of the most famous books, H: Autobiography of a Child Prostitute and Heroin Addict, was written in collaboration with journalists from the German newspaper, Stern ('F', 1981).

Due to the ease of access and a history of journalistic interest, the material is very heavily urban based, with San Francisco (Weisberg, 1985), New York (Allsebrook & Swift, 1989), London (Sawyer, 1988), Birmingham (Donovan, 1992), Melbourne (Muntabhorn 1993),Amsterdam (Tate, 1991; Donovan, 1992) and Berlin ('F', 1981) over-represented. Other cities with known groups of child prostitutes, such as Dallas, Washington DC, Sydney, and in the United Kingdom, Brighton and Cardiff, are not discussed in nearly the same detail. In the USA especially, there are certain centres of expertise on child prostitution such as Huckleberry House in San Francisco and Covenant House in New York, with long campaigning and advocacy histories, so that it can be easier to gain access to both children and experts in the 'treatment' of abused children through these types of organisation. In Canada, particular emphasis has been placed on Ontario, not because of the higher concentration of juvenile prostitutes there, but because the Queen's University Social Program Evaluation Group has taken particular interest in the problems facing homeless and prostitute youth (Radford et al, 1989).

In the USA, the source of a good deal of the literature is part of the university sector that specialises in 'objective' non-judgmental studies of AIDS awareness and/or delinquent psychology (Nightingale n.d.; Baizerman et al 1979; Davidson & Loken 1987; Widom and Ames, 1994). In the USA much emphasis is placed on the 'runaway' phenomenon, first noted in the 1960s and now closely tied to the prostitution discourse (Lloyd, 1977; Sereny, 1984; Schaffer & Deblassie, 1984). The current prostitution problem continues to be seen as having its roots in the alternative culture movements of the late 1960s, with a special emphasis on the hippie communities in San Francisco (Weisberg 1985). It is claimed that many children ran way to join these communes but, on leaving them, found themselves unable to make any money other than through prostitution (Schaffer & Deblassie, 1984).

In Canada, the emphasis has been on AIDS prevention and protecting children for their own good and that of society (Lowman, 1987). It is notable that the Canadian literature concentrates on Canadians of European descent (National Consultation on Adolescent Prostitution, 1984). Native Canadians are seldom mentioned, despite the fact that they tend to show higher-than-average rates of what are regarded as predisposing factors such as coming from broken homes with a history of drug or alcohol use, or having been placed in state institutional care. Yet in the rest of the literature, the multiple problems that lead children into prostitution are emphasised (Lowman, 1987). This in direct contrast to United States research, where race or ethnicity are especially important markers. No study of juvenile prostitutes in the USA is complete without a breakdown of prostitutes' racial backgrounds and a discussion of what this might mean (Weisberg, 1985; Gibsonainyette et al, 1988).

In the United Kingdom, the stress is on boy prostitutes. 'Rent boys' have become a staple of the British media and even the more serious academic studies, have tended to concentrate more on boys than on girls, despite the smaller numbers of boy prostitutes. The West Midland Police, which covers Birmingham where there is a major red light district, commissioned a report on young male prostitutes and came up with a report based on a sample group of less than 20 (Donovan, 1992). While the police have concentrated on boy prostitutes, the advocacy groups discuss young children of both sexes, highlighting the problems they experience when they leave institutional care and the lack of support they are given. NGOs such as the Children's Society in the United Kingdom have published papers and articles suggesting that it is both lack of institutional care and the brutalising effect that many children's homes have on their inmates that contribute to their recourse to prostitution when they are discharged or escape (Lee & O'Brien, 1995).

A further contributory factor stressed in Western literature is the role of broken homes (Finkelhor, 1979; Sereny, 1984; Weisberg, 1985; Lowman, 1987; Gibsonainyette et al, 1988; Campagna & Poffenberger 1988; Allsebrook & Swift, 1989; Widom and Ames, 1994). Many of the juveniles surveyed have suffered sexual and physical abuse within the family and many are runaways from abusive situations (Finkelhor, 1979; Weisberg, 1985; Lowman, 1987; Snell, 1995). In Britain, the emphasis is placed more on children who have been in state institutional care rather than those from abusive families, yet the literature remains framed within the discourse on dysfunctional families (Lee & O'Brien, 1995). Throughout almost all the books and articles on the subject in the West, runs the theme that these children are outside society, and that reasons have to be found for their deviancy. Their life histories are presented in terms of theories of deviancy. There is a notable absence of views of the children themselves or, when literature does include their opinions, this is often countered by an authorial voice giving reasons why they are wrong.

The particular emphasis on boy prostitutes is related to a concern with the mental health of sexually exploited children in general. In the case of boys, there is considerable discussion about whether these boys are homosexual or 'really' heterosexuals whose commercial sexual activities are focused on financial gain. One concern frequently expressed is that heterosexual boys with homosexual clients may become gay by being prostitutes, resulting in a good deal of discussion about exactly what boys will let there partners do to them and whether they take an 'active' or 'passive' role in sexual activities. A parallel debate is entirely absent in the literature on female prostitution. Nor is there any information about young men who have female clients (Lloyd, 1977; Donovan, 1994). The only similar discussion in literature on female prostitution is whether or not girl prostitutes can become good mothers. The underlying implication is that, whether they are boys or girls, juvenile prostitutes will not have learned appropriate gender roles.

Literature on the poor psychological health of young sex workers also seems to take for granted they suffer from low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies and the inability to form relationships, generally without exploring scientifically the causal relationships involved (Finkelhor, 1979; Baizerman et al, 1979; National Consultation on Adolescent Prostitution, 1984; Davidson & Loken, 1987). The assumption is that low self-esteem results from prostitution, rather than that some juveniles become prostitutes because their self-esteem is low. One dissenting voice can be heard in the published words of a woman sex worker,

I also find it very interesting that [the authorities] look at the child prostitute, and they say the problem is prostitution. They forget the problems of theft, drugs, or just general exploitation of youth on the street... It's bordering on criminal for officials to try and say that prostitution is responsible for this....Prostitution is a symptom of a greater problem that these children have experienced that put them on the street in the first place (Bell, 1987, p. 26).

Many texts stress degrading aspects of child prostitution, including being forced into being prostitutes, raped by pimps, terrorised by gang members and becoming dependent on drugs (Sawyer, 1988; Tate, 1991). There is constant reference to the apparently inevitable links between prostitution and heroin use. Yet there is little information about the long-term effects in adulthood because there is no systematic research on the results of prostitution in childhood, simply the impression from reiterated assumptions that juvenile prostitutes end up either dead or living worthless and useless lives (Campagna & Poffenberger, 1988). Some accounts of the lives of boy prostitutes suggest that the average length of time as a prostitute is between two and seven years (Donovan, 1986; Snell 1995) but longitudinal studies seem not to be carried out.

A further concern for those writing about young girl prostitutes is the part played by males who live off their earnings, with far more attention paid to this than to the role of female adult exploiters. Pimps are almost always portrayed as vicious and evil psychopaths, and the fact that many girls speak fondly of their 'protectors' is explained as co-dependency. Even though not all prostitutes work for pimps and some men living with prostitutes are part time prostitutes themselves, the overwhelming impression given of pimps is that they are older, manipulative men (Lowman, 1987). The assumption that all girl prostitutes must be controlled in this way is, of course, a reflection of overall societal assumptions about the vulnerability of women and the need to police their sexuality.

These three discourses, from South East and South Asia and the West represent the majority of studies on the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In each case the discourse on children and prostitution is constructed within structures of ideas about society, childhood, gender and sexuality. In South East Asia the literature on children and prostitution tends to dominate current discussion of childhood. There is no developed literature on children and the social phenomenon of childhood, but a long tradition of constructing gender and sexuality on the basis of an image of passive, childlike women as well as defining cultural norms in opposition to external or foreign evils. The current debates about female children in South Asia, subsumed in the incorrect, essentialist notion of the 'girl child' have been providing a trenchant feminist critique of the unequal status of women in society. This stresses the more vulnerable aspects of female sexuality and thus not only emphasises the oppressive aspects of tradition, through concentrating on the image of girl children as temple prostitutes, but also pivots on the notion of women and girls as objects, as in trafficking. Western discourses on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, on the other hand, are more individualistic and thus concentrate on the deviant behaviour and mental health of individual cases, as well as a concern with the causal relationship between deviant, abusive families and prostitution, showing overall societal concerns only in with respect to the proper assimilation of gender roles.

In contrast, the literature on child sexual exploitation in Africa and in Latin America is far less developed and cohesive. In both areas, the literature on childhood has different emphases.

In so far as they exist at all, child studies in Africa, focus on child health and construct the idea of children as victims, without any particular focus on commercial sexual exploitation of children. Indeed, it is often claimed that this term cannot be applied in most African contexts because the distinction between sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation can not be clearly drawn, not only in analytical terms within studies, but also within cultural understandings.

Africa's diversity makes the definition of childhood in itself a research issue. The African social science community, includes very few specialists on children's issues outside traditional concerns with health, education and psychology. The main themes in academic research on children in Africa carried out by Western researchers have traditionally been socialisation and initiation or puberty rites. In the nexus between academia and programme makers, a good deal of more recent research has concentrated on medical anthropology, with an interest in traditional health practices in child care and nutrition.

African social science researchers with an interest in child studies now tend to focus on the broad area of child abuse, although, as will be argued below the definition has a particularly African texture. A further major interest in all circles, in research largely dominated by Western researchers, is HIV/AIDS. In the African context this concerns children rather more than it does in other regions of the world, partly because the pattern of infection has long been recognised to be heterosexual, thus affecting children through vertical transmission; partly because of the existence of a relatively large number of 'AIDS orphans', principally in East Africa. A number of mostly Western psychologists have also been studying children affected by armed conflict, concentrating on aspects of traumatisation and victimisation (see for example, Dodge & Raundalen, 1987).

The considerable upheavals due to wars, conflicts, natural and man-made disasters, together with mounting impoverishment among African populations, increasingly affect African children. Yet very few socio economic studies of these effects have taken place. Research on children appears to be fragmented and there are few outlets for publication of research on children's issues. Two recent annotated bibliographies of studies of African children and childhood provide no references to published work on sexual abuse, much less on commercial sexual exploitation of children (Gueye 1995; Ross 1995).

Within this context, the topic of the sexual exploitation of children is part of an overall emphasis on children as victims, fitting within the concerns of a relatively-well developed discourse on child abuse and neglect. This latter is largely the outcome of the activities of ANPPCAN, the African member of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Based in Nairobi and with national chapters in many African countries (largely Anglophone), ANPPCAN has been active in promoting research in this area as well as advocacy for children's protection rights.

It has to be said, however, that the concept of 'abuse' used by ANPPCAN, and entering the African literature, is not structured in the same way as used in the general Western literature, which can lead to confusion between researchers from different regions. The presentation given by an ANPPCAN functionary in Nairobi cited by Dallape (1988, pp. 104-8) makes this very clear. Child abuse is seen as a feature of other social phenomena or situations, rather than as a phenomenon in its own right:


'The following are the areas where child abuse is commonly evidenced:

Child labour
Children in prison
Handicapped children
Battering of children
Children under psychological stress
Abandoned children
Children in war situations.' (ibid, p. 104)

Sexual abuse and/or exploitation are mentioned under child labour, prisons, psychological stress and abandonment in this list. The problems this presents for arriving at even an operational definition for sexual exploitation are clear. This is possibly why, in another ANPPCAN publication, a study of child agricultural labourers (male) and prostitutes (female) makes it clear that by 'prostitute' is meant any unmarried girl who has sexual intercourse (Peltzer, n/d).
The field of sexual abuse in Africa cannot be separated from the literature of largely-Northern, feminist campaigners against female excision and infibulation (see the bibliography by Passmore Sanderson, 1986). This is likewise implicated in the anthropological literature on initiation (see La Fontaine, 1985, for an over-view). Although campaigners sometimes like to include these debates within the general field of sexual exploitation of children, this is conceptual nonsense. It does not advance the purposes of advocacy to obscure issues by merging disparate concerns with different root causes.

The study of child sexual exploitation in Africa cannot be separated conceptually from constructions of sexuality and sexual morality. It is notable that the literature shows a particularly marked distinction not only between the behaviours expected of boys and girls, but also the expressed attitudes towards sexual morality of both groups. A further focus of study in this area is the migration nexus, together with the contrasts drawn between rural morality and town morality, and between generations. This is also situated within the overall massive population movements within the continent in the face of natural disaster, war and impoverishment. Nevertheless, although there is considerable anecdotal evidence of child sexual exploitation resulting from these types of situation in which children are rendered particularly vulnerable to the misuse of adult power, hard facts and properly-conducted research are difficult to come by.

In terms of academic discourse, or even within NGO and IGO literature, the topic of child sexual exploitation in Sub-Saharan Africa, consists of an almost total vacuum, in which dispersed and disconnected items of journalistic and project-oriented text are floating aimlessly. The vast majority of the latter material is unpublished.

Although there is a considerable body of literature on children in Latin America it is dominated by the discourse on so called 'street children' (Rizzini, 1996). It is worth noting that the Latin American model of street children has tended to dominate work in this area in all developing countries, largely because the ideas (but not the texts) have been disseminated by Western aid agencies (Ennew, 1996). Children who live on the street often engage in sexual relationships, with each other and in the course of prostitution, which may be occasional or virtually full time for both boys and girls. Thus the literature on the commercial sexual exploitation of children often seems to be merged with that on street children. The street children discourse in Brazil and Colombia in particular is characterised by ambivalence (Aptekar, 1988). Street children are worthy of pity if young, and feared if older adolescents. In either case they are often stigmatised and the literature, frequently dominated by writers from outside the region, is often lurid and lacking in any kind of academic rigour (see for example Meunier, 1977; Agnelli, 1986; Bridel & Collomp, 1986; Dimenstein, 1991). The HIV/AIDS complex has largely overwhelmed the literature on sexuality since the late 1980s, together with a specific interest in street girls in Brazil, due partly to the influence of two charismatic female project directors. The literature on this issue is on the one hand largely tied to project publicity and on the other to medical discourses.

More recently, psychologists in several Latin American countries have shown an interest in studying child sexual abuse, which now constitutes a proper field of study and is resulting in some interesting publications. In general, but to a less hysterical extent, Latin America is going through the same kind of discovery of child sexual abuse that occurred in the USA and Europe in the late 1980s.

Prostitution itself is enmeshed in a series of ideas about men and women. These include the idea that men's sexual appetites are uncontrollable and have to be satisfied by women who enjoy sex (prostitutes) rather than by 'good women' (mothers, daughters, wives) who do not enjoy sex. This is related to ideas of honour and family. A man's honour is tied up in the chastity or purity of the females in his family, wives, sisters and daughters. In its most macho form, masculinity entails protecting the honour of the women in your own family while proving your virility by manifestations of virility (see the papers in Pescatello, 1978). This means that female prostitutes perform an important role with respect to families. Both journalism and research tend to reproduce the same historical accounts that justify the existence of prostitution as a necessary social evil that protects the purity of mothers, daughters and wives and thus ensures the continuing existence of the family (Arnold, 1978). However, it should be noted that this role is exclusive to female prostitutes, many of whom, according to most accounts, begin this work around the age of 15 years (see for example Cairo, 1967; Alves-Milho, 1977). As the majority of street children are boys, the prostitution in which they are engaged belongs within an entirely different complex of social ideas, which does not seem to have been researched in depth. The overwhelming majority of studies of children and prostitution in Latin America is concerned with female children.

There are two resounding absences within the literature on the commercial sexual exploitation of children on the world scene: Eastern Europe and Arab/Islamic countries. However these absences occur for different reasons. Such literature as does exist in Islamic societies is dominated by legal considerations, which is to a certain extent replacing a culture of denial. Whereas in the past the tendency was to comment that child abuse and exploitation is forbidden by the Koran and therefore does not take place, there now seems to be evidence of considerable reflection on children's issues in general and exploitation and abuse in particular. This remains within religious paradigms, but is adding considerably to understanding of the attitudes of Islam to both children and sexuality (see for example Risaluddin, 1996)

In so far as any link might be said to exist between the literature on child sexual exploitation in Arab countries and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is the dominance of lurid journalism on the topic of trafficking in girls and women. There is an established link in sex trafficking between Arabs and South Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh. One estimate suggests that 200,000 girls from Bangladesh were taken against their will to work in Arab brothels (International Children's Rights Monitor 5 (2-3); 10 (1 2)). However the data are anecdotal.

With the sudden economic and social changes of 1989 families in all the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have been faced with the collapse of welfare systems and the burden of child support has largely shifted to families, many of which are undergoing severe hardship. Children have been particularly badly affected and accounts by journalists suggest that there has been a sharp increase in child sex exploitation (see for example June 21, 1993, Time). The evidence is extremely patchy and usually sensational, telling for example of the longest in the world situated between Berlin and Prague called the 'Highway of Cheap Love' managed by the 'Chechen Boys,' where 'kids are sold like a kilo of bread'.

Box 1: The press view of the commercial sexual exploitation of children worldwide
AMSTERDAM, Mar 26 (IPS) - Beneath New York's endlessly high buildings, in the glare of the neon lights and fancy storefronts which carve that city's image, is a hauntingly sombre reality: thousands of children selling their bodies to survive.

Halfway across the globe, in Kenya, a police raid in a Nairobi hotel in January found West African and Japanese men frolicking with nine girls aged between 12 and 16. In Sierra Leone, a nation ravaged by conflict, few tourists come to visit these days. Those who do find themselves being solicited by legions of young victims of civil war and poverty willing to provide sex for the price of a meal.

Economic need and the insatiable appetite of a new breed of tourists are pushing downwards the age of participants in the flesh trade. No longer is sex an 'attraction' promoted through subtle messages: it has moved up front, and children play a conspicuous role.

1.2. The nature of evidence in current literature

The single most important factor uniting the literature on the commercial sexual exploitation of children is the way in which information is managed. There are few examples of rigorous research or of data presented within a comprehensible cultural context. Rare examples of good research practice do exist, such as the study of girl prostitutes in Costa Rica carried out by Tatiana Treguear and Carmen Carro in which both methodology and method are laid bare and it is possible to judge the quality of the data by the way they are presented (Treguear & Carro, 1994), and the exploration of cultural understandings of child abuse in Zimbabwe, carried out by a team of researchers working with participatory methods (Loewenson & Chikamba, 1994). But these are exceptions. In general terms, the available global discourse on this theme is characterised by a poor understanding and use of quantitative information, lack of attention to research techniques, the reproduction of myths and unsubstantiated facts, as well as the use of assumptions and campaigning imperatives in place of established bodies of theory. If, as is frequently stated, children indeed deserve the best we (adults) have to give, they are not receiving their just deserts in a field in which they are particularly vulnerable. Or, as has been said with respect to the discourse on street children and its effects, it is not acceptable


that international organisations, policy makers, social institutions and individuals who feel entitled to intervene in the lives of children with problems, do so on the basis of obviously unclear and arbitrary knowledge about the reality of these children's lives. (Glauser, 1990, p. 144).
Numbers

Perhaps the most serious of these aspects is the way in which numerical data are manipulated and reproduced. International interest in children gained momentum in the United National International Year of the Child (1979) and was given further impetus through the adoption and entering into force of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989/90) yet, in the space of nearly two decades, little has changed in terms of the way research is carried out and used by child welfare and advocacy organisations, despite considerable advances in theories of childhood and methods of researching children's issues within the academic community. What this amounts to is that the numbers provided for all groups of children in need of special care and protection have tended to remain the same, based on guestimates rather than research. Whereas guestimates have their place in the early stages of research, provided that they are based on sound reasoning, the role they should play is that of baseline hypotheses, to be proved or disproved so that the true scale of a problem can be understood and children protected using programmes grounded in a real understanding of their situation. In the case of child sexual exploitation, however, guestimates have become fact, partly because they have become inscribed in rhetorical discourses aimed to raise awareness. The objective appears to be to heighten public and policy interest in the issue by stressing the scale of the problem. Yet this is neither ethically acceptable nor logical. In the first place, as stated as far back as 1983 by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, 'The important point is not the scale of the problem but its degree of seriousness as a violation of the fundamental rights of the human person' (Fernand-Laurent, 1983, p. 14). In the second place, the normal practice within the literature of providing a raw number, such as 'There are 1 million sexually abused children in Asia' (Narvesen, 1989), does not actually provide an idea of scale. To do this would require some knowledge of source, time, relative location and proportion. A correct statement of scale would be something like 'According to estimates made by A on the basis of B type of calculation, in 1996 there are 1 million sexually abused children (under 18 years of age) in Asia. This is C% more than the calculation made on the same basis in 1994, D% more than estimated by the same method in Africa in the same year, and represents E% of the total population of Asian children in this age group.' Scale can only be understood in these terms. Moreover it is a poor excuse for adult society to claim that, after nearly two decades and with information technology that can provide minute details of weather, money markets and economic cycles for every country in the world, to claim that guestimates are the only data available. Some relevant data do exist and more could be collected. We have the technology. But agencies 'who feel entitled to intervene in the lives of children' fail to use it.

The current situation on the quantification of the commercial sexual exploitation of children is characterised not only by widely differing figures but also by very different definitions. Data on children are frequently hidden within and confused with data on adults. One problem is caused by the different age groupings used. In many studies the juvenile population is defined as under 21, rather than 18, years (see for example Lowman, 1987). Combined with the vague bases for guestimation, this makes it difficult to judge the scale of commercial sexual exploitation of children even within a single national context. In the case of the USA, for example, one study provides an extraordinarily broad estimate of between 100,000 and 300,000 of young prostitutes (cited elsewhere as 'child prostitutes') on the basis of a sample of people aged 14 to 34, with a mean age of 22 years (Snell, 1995). Another study, of the USA, suggested that there are 2,400,000 child prostitutes and estimated a total of 100,000,000 sexually abused children in the world, but did not distinguish adequately between the categories of child prostitute and sexually abused children (Joseph, 1995). Gibsonainyette and colleagues estimated that the number of prostitutes under the age of 18 in the USA in the 1980s and also stated that there had been a 242% increase in underage prostitution between 1967 and 1976 (Gibsonainyette et al, 1988). Campagna and Poffenberger claimed in the same year that 1.2 million children were being sexually exploited in the USA but did not define sexual exploitation (Campagna & Poffenberger, 1988 ). Combining these figures results in a highly confusing picture.




Table 1: (Gu)Estimates of child abuse and prostitution in the USA, various sources

Year Estimate Definition Age Source
1967 247933 child prostitutes under 18? Gibsonainyette et al, 1988
1976 600000 child prostitutes under 18 Gibsonainyette et al, 1988
1977 600000 boy and girl prostitutes ? Densen-Gerber(Lloyd)
1988? 1200000 abused children ? Campagna & Poffenberger
1995? 100,000 to 300,000 young prostitutes 14-34? Snell
1995? 2400000 child prostitutes ? Joseph 1995


Box 2: Creation of a statistic
...even the best estimates of the numbers of juvenile prostitutes may have poor statistical foundation. Nevertheless, because they are the only figures available, they enter official records and become facts which may be quoted confidently by anyone. One example of this is the figure of one million child prostitutes in the United States, which was given in evidence to the House of Representatives in 1977. The expert in question was Dr Judianne Densen Gerber, Director of the Odyssey Institute which operates rehabilitation programmes for children with various kinds of deviancy problem. The figure was a guestimate based on the number of 300,000 boys prostitutes given in what Dr Densen-Gerber refers to as 'the research of Robin Lloyd'. Because she assumed that there would indubitably be more girl prostitutes, she added 600,000 to this figure without providing any evidence to support her claim. Indeed, historical evidence about man-boy preferences, and some figures given by other authorities in other countries, might contradict her assumption. But the real problem is that Lloyd is not a social scientist working on any established methodology for gathering statistical information, but a journalist researching a book for the popular market. Here is his own account of how he arrived at the figure Dr Densen-Gerber quoted:


In the early stages of research for this book, I approached police officers and leaders of the gay community with a working figure of 300,000 boy prostitutes in the United States alone. Deputy District Attorney James Grodin, in Los Angeles said, 'You wont get any argument from this officer for that figure'. During a television interview I offered the same figure to Morris Kight, the West Coast gay activist. Said Kight, 'It might well be double that amount'.

But what Kight and Grodin were agreeing to was -- at its best -- a gut hunch. (Lloyd 1979, p. 202).

None of these experts ever consider the alternative premise that the figure 'might well be' considerably less.
Source: Ennew, 1986, pp. 4-5


Similar difficulties occur in other parts of the world, both the figures themselves and and the range of the guestimate tend to be large (Table 2). As many figures for child


Table 2: (Gu)Estimates of child prostitution in the Philippines (various sources)

Date of publication Number Source
not given 3,000 to 20,000 in Manila Gearin
1993 100000 ECPAT
n/d 20000 Salenlahi
1989 30000 Moorehead
1995 60000 Sachs

prostitution are based on either female or male populations, depending on the discourse involved, and the gender of the 'category' is not always made explicit, it would be difficult to compare information from different countries. Thus, given that the emphasis in India is on the 'girl-child' and in Sri Lanka on boy prostitutes, juxtaposition of figures from these two countries would be fairly meaningless.

One characteristic of the manipulation of numbers is that they are always large and always said to be 'increasing', despite the fact that the same numbers are repeated year on year, a manipulative technique that would not work with company accounts. Sources are rarely provided, the credibility of an organisation being sufficient verification.

Even greater difficulties become apparent in attempts to disaggregate data on child prostitutes by ethnicity. Most studies give percentages of whites, Asians, Afro-Caribbeans and so forth but with no commentary and little additional information. The reader is not told what is meant by the category 'White'. Does this include Hispanics or not? Are Chinese and other East Asians placed in a different category to South Asians or are they all simply classed as Asian? If the reader is told that, for example, 60% of a sample of prostitutes are 'Non-white' this might imply (especially in a journalistic account) that Caucasians are under-represented. Yet, if the 60% were disaggregated one might discover that 15% were Afro-Caribbeans, 15% South East Asian, 15% Latino and 15% South Asian, which would mean that Caucasians were over represented in comparison with other designated 'racial' groupings. Blurred categories provide perfect fodder for stigmatisation, particularly if the discourse involved focuses on ethnicity without taking into account other markers of social status and bases of exploitation, such as age, gender and socio-economic class (Ennew, 1986, pp. 9-10).



Reproduction and repetition of myths

Numbers are an important part of any campaign because they endow it with urgency and a overwhelming sense of importance. Campaigns, journalism and academic literature tend to use the same unreliable statistics, either without reference to the source or citing one of the texts that have attained credibility. A case in point is Narvesen, The Sexual Exploitation of Children in Developing Countries (1989), which claims that there are one million sexually exploited children in Asia, although other texts take this to mean one million prostitutes. It is normal for the highest figures to be given. They are always 'increasing', usually at an 'alarming' rate, reaching 'epidemic' proportions. Yet no reason is given for this except for the 'fact' that customers are turning to ever younger prostitutes because they believe them to be AIDS free. There is no evidence either way for this claim, but it has been endlessly repeated (Jubilee Action Trust, n.d.; Lee-Wright, 1990; Muntabhorn, 1992; O'Grady, 1992; 1994) until it has become a 'fact'. This reproduction of inauthentic or innacurate information is a characteristic of the literature on the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Even before the AIDS pandemic, the literature on child prostitution from all parts of the world repeated, without evidence, that child prostitutes were sought after because they were believed to be free of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including the apparently worldwide belief that penetrative sex with a virgin is a cure. Other commonly repeated myths include female customers injecting boys' penises (sometimes with an unspecified substance, sometimes with a variety of named but unlikely liquids) in order to produce or maintain erections. The evidence for these myths is may simply not be provided, or given as a citation to another text that itself provides no evidence, or take the form of hearsay evidence, the unverified statement of someone who knows somebody who knows these things are true.

Many of these myths are employed in order to demonise the clients of child prostitutes, as if the violation of children's rights involved were not sufficient condemnation. At other times myths are used as distancing devices as part of the construction of the client as outside the society in question, a foreigner, or a tourist. Unresolved question raised by this literature review include how to explain the conditions of production of these myths. What explains the prevalence of particular myths and figures and the dominance of oral over written discourse in this area? What are the 'politics of hype' that result in repetitive, shocking (and titillating) information in this field?




Tourism, xenophobia, construction of the other

Just as ECPAT dominates the overall discourse, so the single idea of sex tourism, with which ECPAT is associated, captures media and other attention (Lorayes n.d., Salinlahi et al, n.d; Asia Partnership for Human Development, 1985; 1992; Miralao et al, 1990; Lee, 1991; Hall, 1992; Anglican Synod of Australia, 1993; O'Grady, 1992; 1994). ECPAT began as a sub division of ECTWT (Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism) apparently perceiving child prostitution as an inevitable consequence of tourism (ECTWT, 1983; 1990). One of the leading anti-tourism campaigners once wrote "too much tourism is the rape of culture, the environment, women and children" (Srisang et al, n.d). The success of the campaigns now apparent in the growing interest in sex tourism in other parts of the world, but is particularly acute in Asia, where it often takes on an expressly anti-Japanese tone. ECPAT's original statement of intent makes this clear:

The conduct of the tourists destroys all attempts to heal the wounds incurred during the Second World War. We would prefer to forget Japanese military imperialism, but, instead of the uniform, the Japanese come today in suits and violate the dignity of the people of Asia with a particular malicious form of socio-economic imperialism. (ECTWT, 1983, p. 14)

Particularly in the Philippines, memories of the Second World War run deep, Japanese are still disliked and much of the blame of child sex tourism is laid at their door. One study of child prostitution in the Philippines has an entire section on Japanese involvement in the trade (ECPAT Philippines, 1994).

Although the language of women's rights and children's rights is sometimes used, child prostitutes are seen as a symptom of the wider problem of foreign (often Western) influence, as in the use of the term 'social evils' in countries such as Vietnam. Although legislation to combat social evils came into force in Vietnam in February 1996, even the Ministry of Social Affairs, which is responsible for implementation, does not have an official definition of the term, which is used as a blanket phrase to mean all that is contrary and harmful to Vietnamese culture, yet associated with gambling, theft and prostitution, none of which are exclusive to non-Vietnamese. As in other 'sex tourism' countries, this mechanism parallels the distancing mechanism in the West that places the emphasis on 'stranger danger', so that sexual abuse within the family is played down in favour of fear of child rape by unknown, asocial men. As Jean La Fontaine states in her seminal study of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom,


If people do think of the possibility of sexual assaults on children they see them as a risk from casual encounters in the street. The belief in the natural relationship between parent and child is the basis for the firm conviction that if danger threatens any child, it can only come from 'outside' the family. When the damage inflicted is sexual, the offending person must be an unknown, a shadowy and frightening stranger, not anyone with whom one has daily contact, let alone someone who is part of the familiar circle of family and friends....Newspapers report the rarer and more dramatic cases of children who disappear and in doing so reinforce the general idea that strangers carry a risk to children involving acts of the greatest perversion, serious damage and even death (La Fontaine, 1990, p. 109).

Similarly, the image of the foreign tourist (Figure 2) has been constructed as both a sexual threat to children and the root cause of child prostitution in certain countries.


Figure 2
Demonisation of the figure of the foreign, male tourist. Distinguished by his camera and with his eyes hidden behind dark glasses, the tourist confronts children on a wasteland far from the high rise buildings of the modern city. The bicycle is presumably a bribe. One campaign slogan in the Philippines was 'He may look like a friend but he could abuse your child.'

Campaigners discuss child prostitution using the language of the market place and talk about it as if it is a question of supply and demand (Good Shepherd Sisters 1994). Foreign men want children therefore they are supplied (O'Grady 1992; 1994; O'Connell Davidson & Brace, 1996). If the demand could be stopped, then there would be no prostitution, an idea that unhelpfully confuses moral and economic discourses (see for example ECTWT, 1990).

Thailand and the Philippines do have some of the best recorded cases of actual commercial sexual abuse by foreigners. Despite the sensationalism of some of the reports, there has been considerable documentation of individual cases. The Jubilee Campaign for example, published full trial transcripts of the trial of a paedophile accused of the rape and grievous bodily harm of a 12 year old girl who later died, giving a full account of the injuries she had suffered (Jubilee Campaign 1992). In this case the transcripts were presented without commentary and this restraint makes the account more shocking than might be the case with the use of emotive writing, which is more usually the case.

Other writers have described the situation of young prostitutes within the overall social and economic contexts of their lives, which contextualises the life choices and survival strategies that children use (see for example Black, 1991; Black, 1995)

In contrast to this, there is some first hand information from Cambodia that examines child prostitution in terms of local clients and a video made by the Cambodian's Women's Association video examines the role of local men. While acknowledging that certain foreigners, in particular members of the United Nations Transitional Force in Cambodia, were clients, the organisation sees this primarily as an issue of exploitation of the girls involved and is less interested in the nationality of the abusers. In Cambodia, the role of Vietnamese child prostitutes is given special attention as Vietnamese prostitutes are reported to make up over 50% of the prostitute population. Working illegally and not speaking the local language makes these children vulnerable to abuse (Care International, 1994; Cambodian Women's Development Association 1994; Cambodian Women's Association 1994; Thang, 1996).

The concentration on child prostitutes who service foreign clients raises the concern that other child prostitutes catering for local customers are being neither counted nor provided for within current policies and programmes. The concern with sex tourism may well be obscuring a large part of the child prostitute population, just as focus on street children forces attention away from the far larger numbers of deprived and marginalised children living and working in urban and rural areas. By presenting information in the way they do, many organisations committed to the eradication of the commercial sexual exploitation of children make it appear that child prostitution to has a single root cause and a single solution -- foreigners, the external enemy. This means that questions about national structural causes of poverty and marginalisation need not be asked. The approach taken by Treguear and Carro in their study of girl prostitutes in Costa Rica is thus all the more refreshing (Treguear & Carro, 1994). Even though Costa Rica is a major tourist destination and gender relations are implicated, they lay the blame for child prostitution on structured, economic and political violence against the poor, who are defined not simply in terms of lack of access to employment, goods and services, but also more specifically through their lack of access to power. These authors end their theoretical analysis by quoting Schibotto (1990, p. 163): 'each one of these girls is a reflection of the violence, not only of her lovers or her clients, but also the entire social formation. Because, in the last analysis, everyone of us -- at some time or in some way -- has gone to bed with them' (our translation).


How evidence is gathered

Perhaps the most disquieting aspect of the literature is the generally poor quality of research. The overwhelming majority of publications and 'grey literature' in the field of the commercial sexual exploitation of children is characterised by muddled, low level or misunderstood theories, badly thought out and applied research methods, poor data and inadequate analysis. Most of the literature consulted for this review was so poor that it was not worth including in the annotated bibliography and, indeed, inclusion should not be taken as a sign of high, or even adequate, quality material. It seems that, in this field, the burden of proof about the truth of a statement does not rest with the research witness who is thus enabled to make a priori claims about the existence and extent of facts that people in general find so desperately uncomfortable that they would rather accept the incredible than ask questions.

It is worth listing the more common errors of research method and analysis, because they contribute to the reproduction of unreliable or mythological information within the literature:

€Much so-called research is carried out by lawyers or activists with no background in the social sciences, whose activities are best described as 'fact-finding' and who accept as fact what would be thrown out of court as hearsay evidence;

€Data are probably biased when (as frequently happens) researchers gain access to research subjects by means of institutions, projects and programmes. Information may thus reflect what the children and others think the project would like them to say, fear of reprecussions from institutional staff, or exaggeration in order to attract greater project advantages.

€Samples are also likely to be skewed because they are drawn from what might be called the 'unsuccessful' prostitutes whose activities have attracted the attention of helping or controlling agencies.

€Researchers seldom use control groups when designing their research.

€Samples tend to be small, yet the information is frequently stretched extremely thin by being subjected to inappropriate quantitative analysis.

€Results of research with small-scale samples are generalised to represent large populations.

€Research is often divorced from local and cultural contexts. Little or no detail about research subjects is given.

€Researchers rely on single-method studies, often on anecdotes that are passed off as case studies. Information gathered is seldom cross-checked (sometimes called 'triangulation') by using other methods, or by comparison with other studies and secondary data.

€Far too often the only social science method employed is the questionnaire survey, which is at best a poor method when used alone, at worst a bad tool to use with children, particularly where sensitive subjects such as sexuality and abuse are concerned.


The language of evidence

One factor in the reproduction of inadequate information in the literature of commercial sexual exploitation of children is the style of language used. Language is the means by which ideas are reproduced. The way it is used in any one context reflects the structure of the paradigm or overall theory that has given rise to these ideas. Language is never neutral. If a structure of ideas is repetitive, so the words and phrases that it gives rise to will bear the same repetitive characteristics. Literature on the commercial sexual exploitation of children is characterised by assertiveness. Uncertain verb forms such as the conditional or the subjunctive mood are seldom used. Thus writers seldom say that something 'might be the case' or 'it is reported that...'., preferring to present their case in the positive indicative, 'is', 'was, 'were'. Thus sentences often begin 'There is evidence...', or 'It is claimed..' or 'It has been found...' although the nature and source of such evidence, findings and claims are not presented. A further immediacy is given to texts by the use of what is called 'the ethnographic present' which is the device of writing about past events in the present tense. A pastiche might be: 'Caroline stands outside the nightclub waiting for a client. She is shivering with the cold and hopes that the next man will not be violent like the man who blacked her eye yesterday. She is twelve years old, but she has the eyes of a much older woman.' This often obscures the fact that the case study was gathered long ago by someone else and that Caroline, if she ever existed, for it is common for writers to invent a composite or typical person, probably is a much older woman by the time the reader encounters her in the text.

Further linguistic devices are implicated in the repetitions and confusions of quantitative data. For example, in the chapter that is devoted to child exploitation in a highly respectable publication on children's rights, the author writes:


Undoubtedly most international trafficking is in women over the age of 16, but some children get swept up in the tide. Specific ages are rarely reported, but it seems reasonable to infer that at least some under-16s are included (Kent, 1992, p. 325).

Leaving aside the rather loose use of metaphor in the phrase 'swept up in the tide' with its implications of the passive, helpless role of women and children, less obvious, but equally powerful, words and phrases in this passage move it to a position in which what is said is unlikely to be questioned because of its authoritative tone. 'Undoubtedly...' puts the writer beyond question, without having given any support for his certainty. He does not qualify what he means by 'most'. Likewise, 'it seems reasonable to infer', when placed alongside 'at least' appears to be 'reasonable' without giving any grounds, while 'at least' in this context appears to imply something of an underestimate. Similar, frequently employed phrases aiding the uncritical repetition of inaccurate statistics are:

'children as young as...' which usually refers to one exceptionally young child in a larger sample of children considerably older;

'up to 20 times a night'.. when referring to numbers of clients, which gives no idea of the average number of clients or the type of sex work under discussion.

Journalists tend to take even greater liberties with language, stressing the emotive aspect of the juvenile's situation and appealing to the readers' sense of outrage. The tone of journalists' coverage of sexual exploitation is often deliberately subjective and emotional. Repetitive use of shocking detail are justified in the public interest. Journalistic scoops are also important. There have been many children 'bought' for a night by journalists in various parts of the world to demonstrate the ease with which children can be bought or sold. Background details may be given but little analysis is presented. There is usually an emphasis in journalists' information on the personal circumstances of each child, without recourse to any wider sociological information. Broken homes and bad parenting are stressed, societal breakdown and under-funding of welfare services rarely mentioned. The failure of social services to spot children at risk or to take appropriate action when they have discovered them is rarely discussed, which is surprising when one considers the verbal lynching sometimes meted out in the Western press to social workers who fail to intervene in case of physical abuse. Instead media reports of sexual exploitation tend to explore themes such as the poverty of the family and inappropriate parental role models (alcoholic father or prostitute mother). Added to this emphasis on the guilt of bad parents is the celebration of good parental figures who help children. Charismatic individuals who rescue children from prostitution are feted and congratulated, so that ultimately it is private charities rather than the state welfare services that are seen as providing solutions.
Nevertheless, journalists do tend to quote children directly more often than academics although, when children are allowed a voice, it seems they are muted or speak according to predetermined scripts. Adult advocates are usually given much more column space, and their opinions are given far greater weigh,t so that it can sometimes seem as if journalists are merely quoting a child to prove the point that adults are making.

Within the non-governmental sector in general, data tend to be collected and/or collated in an extremely patchy and haphazard manner. There is a great reliance on newspaper reports, individual stories, other NGOs and social workers, child rescuers and other 'experts' who guess at numbers and statistics. There is almost no information from the children who work as prostitutes and little exchange of information with the academic sphere. What counts as evidence can be seen in the following passage from The Child and the Tourist, in which the author quotes 'an anonymous' Thai friend's description of 'paedophiles' he saw at a beach in Pattaya, Thailand. The 'friend's words apparently were:


"I sensed an insincere, almost sinister smile on the faces of the men. Many were giggling like school children and talking in the uninhibited manner of young children. In the water, they wore skimpy swimming gear while the boys were fully dressed. Frolicking in the water they took their shorts off and bobbed up and down and removed the boys clothing. On the beach, they played with the boys in mock fighting showing their superior strength. their communication with the boys was entirely physical (much of it with sexual references and some of it genital). They had total lack of awareness of Thai customs" (O'Grady 1992: 98).

Academic literature on this topic in South East Asia is largely written by Western academics who have carried out some field research in the countries they study. In general, they conducted interviews with the children and young people and tend to be critical of middle class activists who appear to have less 'hands on' experience than the researchers (Muecke 1992; Black 1994). Some anthropologists and sociologists have been concerned with looking at underlying predisposing factors and cultural patterns that might lead to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. They rarely talk about the types of clients but look at the family background of the children involved in prostitution emphasising the burden of duty they bear, especially girls, who are expected to make sacrifices in order to look after the family and to repay the parents for their lives. They also stress the religious differences of the countries involved yet note, that although Thailand is mostly Buddhist, the Philippines Catholic and Taiwan, Confucian, all countries share these values of reciprocity and respect towards parents (Phongpaichit, 1982; Mccaughy & Hou, 1994; Lie, 1995). It is also notable that within those countries, Muslim minorities are almost never involved in prostitution although there are reported to be prostitutes in Indonesia and a small number in Malaysia (Murray, 1991).
The overall impression gained from carrying out this review of the literature on the commercial sexual exploitation of children is a permanent sense of dejá vu, because the material is so repetitive and the methods of data collection, analysis and presentation reinforce the way information tends to be reproduced. There are interesting debates and pockets of verifiable data, but these are obscured by the overwhelming weight of sensationalism, pressurised advocacy and refusal to examine taken-for-granted assumptions. The main reason is that data in this field generally arise in the context of campaigns so that knowledge is organised around adult requirements for particular kinds of fact, rather than the actual lives and needs of sexually exploited children.


1.3 In search of a framework

Facts simply do not lie around on the ground to be picked up as pigeons pick up peas. An organisational framework of ideas is necessary in order to measure and monitor any social phenomenon. Within the field of the commercial sexual exploitation of children several clusters of ideas and theories might be considered for their usefulness as organising principles for the development of concepts and the collection of data. Each is related to a particular campaigning stance, and we have chosen to present them here in schematic form (Table 3).



Table 3: Campaign theories and related theories in the field of the commercial sexual exploitation of children

Campaign Theory
Feminism Patriarchy, the 'girl-child'
Morality Religion, sexuality, blaming perpetrators, rescuing children
Child survival and development Psychology, medicine
International development aid Poverty, demand and supply (economics), community development
Children's rights (including sexual rights) Power, childhood, human rights

Although all these theoretical structures have their merits and explanatory value, the most coherent and (more importantly) children-focused framework for the purpose of measuring and monitoring the commercial sexual exploitation of children seems to us to be children's rights. This is because consideration of children's rights entails a discussion of the nature of childhood, which is inscribed in the power differential between adults and children. Discussion of this unequal relationship opens the possibility of discussing other inequalities that exist universally, while taking different cultural and historical forms. This would mean that a framework for monitoring based on these ideas would be both stable and flexible. The relationship between children and adults within families, has a parallel in the relationship between children and states, which, in their modern forms, are ultimately responsible for policing parenting, schooling and work, the main socialising institutions of childhood. Likewise, the trio of child/family/state exists within structures of regional and global domination, which include economic disparities, political inequalities and, last but not least, tourism.

Children and Prostitution - Introduction

Background and Context of this Review

In spite of international commitment to the eradication of all practices associated with the sexual exploitation of and sale and traffic in children, there is little comprehensive data on the extent, mechanisms or root causes. Research has thus far been largely exploratory, to a great extent using data generated from secondary sources, most frequently from journalism and non governmental organisations, whether these have a campaigning or welfare orientation. There is an urgent need for more systematic and global knowledge of the nature and incidence of the problem, including an understanding of the cultural, social and economic contexts in which it arises and flourishes and the development of typologies and categories that can be of use not only in developing appropriate conceptual frameworks and methods of research but also eventually in policy formulation and programme development by national and international bodies. It is also clear that there is a critical need to develop operational definitions that will capture the phenomena involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of children, so that they can be measured, monitored and combatted.
Structure of the research

The research on which this review is based took place at the request of UNICEF Headquarters, New York, Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances Section as a background document for the Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm 25-31 August, 1996. Researchers were based at the Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, which is a Key Institution of Childwatch International, an international network of child research institutes and researchers. The researchers were thus able to take advantage of an existing structure of monthly child research seminars and the expertise of a number of children's rights, child labour and child sexual exploitation researchers working in the university as well as of the Childwatch International Indicators for Children's Rights Project, which is also based at the Centre for Family Research;

The research team members were Judith Ennew, Kusum Gopal, Janet Heeran and Heather Montgomery, with a peer review group consisting of Professor Jean La Fontaine, Dr Virginia Morrow, Professor Marilyn Strathern, Dr Christopher Williams, and the Director of the Centre for Family Research, Dr Martin Richards.

A mid-term Consultation, held in the University of Cambridge, was attended by Dr Virginia Morrow (Senior Research Associate, Centre for Family Research), Dr Sophie Day (Department of Anthropology, Goldsmith's College, University of London), Dr Alicia Fentiman (Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge), Einar Hanssen (Norwegian Centre for Child Research, University of Trondheim), Rachel Hinton (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge), Alka Gurung (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge), Professor Jean La Fontaine (Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics), Brian Milne (Defence for Children International, U.K. Section), Angela Penrose (Save the Children U.K., Overseas Research Department), Dr Frances Pine (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge), Professor Marilyn Strathern (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge), Dr Helen Watson, (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge), Dr Christopher Williams (Global Security Programme, University of Cambridge). It is worth mentioning that those present at the Consultation have expertise in various aspects of the social sciences including studies of women, children, gender and prostitution, as well as direct research experience in (inter alia) Nepal, UK, India, West Africa, South Africa, East Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Norway, Poland and Egypt. Papers from the Consultation were also shared with Andrew Bainham, Dr Jo Boyden, Dr Charlie Davison, Dr Michael Edwards, Richard Fentiman, Dr Angie Hart, Edda Ivan-Smith, Dr Ziba Mir-Husseini, Dr Martin Richards and Philip Van Haeke.

This edition of the review includes materials developed during three days of workshops immediatley preceding the Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children, in which the team members were joined by Mark Connolly of UNICEF Headquarters, New York, Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances Section.

The researchers are thus grateful for the invaluable support and guidance of a number of individuals given when investigating, structuring and writing this review. Nevertheless, as authors they bear responsibility both for the opinions expressed and for any errors or omissions.


Objectives and scope

The objectives of the research were to:

€Map the discourse of the commercial sexual exploitation of children, showing the main ideas in operation and the main organisational and geographical contexts in which they arise;

€Map the data showing what data are available, their strengths and weaknesses, together with a critique of methods and assumptions;

€Describe the context of the production and reproduction of knowledge in this field;

€Discuss the implications of the current state of discourses and data and their potential for future work, particularly in the area of measurement.


In order to develop the most useful and systematic research typologies and methods, the literature review team considered in the first instance the widest possible range of reported occurrences of the sexual exploitation of and sale and traffic in children for sexual purposes. These included:

€prostitution
€pornography
€marriage broking
€sex tourism
€cultural practices such as devadasi
€adoption and fostering of older children
€sexual abuse in institutional settings
€sexual abuse of domestic servants

Literature from appropriate sources in major European languages was searched using both electronic and manual data bases. Some literature was not located and other material was located but could not be accessed in the time available. One major set of literature that was not addressed in detail was the official discourse of governments, inter-governmental organisations and of the Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children itself. Further major lacunae in the research process were materials from Francophone countries and information about Islamic nations.


Structure of the review

In the first instance, data were collected and examined on a regional basis. The team members met regularly to review progress and consider the conceptual and theoretical issues raised by material collected and read. Monthly team seminars, attended by members of the peer review group, developed specific themes addressing definitional and methodological issues. At the mid-term Consultation, the research team specifically requested advice on:

€Identifying phenomena and defining concepts. This was not to say that it was intended to develop 'concepts for all time' but rather to find operational concepts that might be used for the purposes of research and measurement.

€Deepening their critical review of the literature. Although new references were welcomed, the team had discovered that, in general, data are too weak in this field to justify further literature searches. On the contrary, it was felt necessary to pinpoint the reasons why these data are so poor and also to consider the manner in which they are produced.

€Ideas about the most productive routes to follow in order to clear a path for work to measure and monitor the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In this respect, the expert group was asked for advice about the most useful concepts to define, the background literature most appropriate for this purpose and the most productive areas to research in more depth.

This current review is structured on the basis of the lively discussion that took place at the Consultation. The most important single factor in the structure is the fact that the original approach, which had been to review literature on a regional basis, was abandoned in favour of using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a universal conceptual framework that can be applied to all regions, bearing in mind the requirement to be cognisant of and sensitive to cultural differences.

The review thus consists of two parts. In the first, after a consideration of the problems raised by taking a regional perspective, the relevant articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are explored with respect to some of the phenomena to which they refer, the concepts that capture these phenomena, the data that will be required to measure them and the potential for constructing a system of indicators for monitoring not only the current situation with respect to the commercial sexual exploitation of children, but also the impact of interventions aimed to prevent and eradicate it, as well as to rehabilitate those children who have been and are involved. The second part of the review consists of an annotated bibliography, organised on a regional basis, with brief introductory essays overviewing the main themes encountered in each region, cultural aspects and some consideration of the type and quality of data represented. The works included in the bibliography represent those most pertinent to the themes of this review, but do not give a comprehensive account of the totality of literature consulted.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the review is the relative lack of coverage of the topic of pornography. On the advice of the experts at the Consultation the research team decided to concentrate their efforts for this background document for the Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children on the topic of children and prostitution. This decision was taken for purely practical time considerations. However, the choice of title, 'Children and Prostitution' was not arbitrary. This was chosen in order to aid conceptualisation of the entire topic, avoiding the narrower scope of terms such as child prostitute and child sex worker as well as the problems of using phrases such as 'commercial sexual exploitation' in certain cultural contexts, particularly in Africa.


Definitions

The definitions with which the research team began were those common in international human rights circles. They were not necessarily regarded as the most pertinent within the scope of this study and, as the text will show, considerable adaptation occurred in the course of conceptualising a new framework that is not bound to regional discourses. Nevertheless, the following definitions were used as a guide for the purpose of data collection:



"Child" was used as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 1 as "every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier".

With respect to child prostitution and pornography the point of departure was taken from Vitit Muntarbhorn, then United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, at the 48th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, 1992:

"'Child Prostitution' refers to the sexual exploitation of a child for remuneration in cash or in kind, usually but not always organized by an intermediary (parent, family member, procurer, teacher, etc.)"

"The term 'child pornography' refers to the visual or audio depiction of a child for the sexual gratification of the user, and involves the production, distribution and/or use of such material."
It should be noted that, whereas this definition of 'The Child' has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as integral to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (adopted 1989, entered into force 1990), the definitions given by the former Special Rapporteur on Sale of Children are simply part of his first report to the UN Human Rights Commission -- they are thus not official UN definitions.

For the purpose of data collection, 'commercial sexual exploitation' was distinguished from sexual abuse, by the fact that some pecuniary advantage is achieved by some party to sexual activity. Pecuniary advantage is understood in the wider sense that includes cash and kind so long as there is some means of accounting in monetary terms. Sexual activity is not limited to penetrative sex, or even to genital sexual activities. Moreover, as stated above, and in common with the definitions of child and child prostitution, the conceptual and theoretical work carried out for the review resulted in considerable modification of this definition.