ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN
IN THE EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA REGION[i]
The Vicious Cycle of Sexual Exploitation, HIV/AIDS, Vulnerability
of Children and Violations of Children’s Human Rights
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Network for the Prevention and Protection of Children against
Child Sexual Abuse and Neglect.
Catholic Child Bureau
Sexual Exploitation of Children
Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
Welfare Society of Kenya
International: End Child Prostitution, Child pornography
and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes
and Southern Africa Regional Office (UNICEF)
of Women Lawyers.
of Children Organization
for Street Children-Ethiopia
of Gender, Labor and Social Development.
Save the Children Organization.
Sciences Research Council
Program for the Elimination of Child Labor
Demographic and Health Survey
Demographic and Health Survey
Child Rights NGO Network
Nations Commission on the Rights of the Child
Women Lawyers Association
Men’s Christian Association
Law Development Commission
problem of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) has
increasingly become a major global concern. The magnitude of the
problem in the East and Southern Africa Region is not adequately
documented, but UNICEF estimates that millions of children in
the region are sexually exploited. The worldwide pervasiveness
of the problem culminated in the first World Congress on Commercial
Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1996
to put the problem on the international political agenda. This
conference, which led to the adoption of an international Action
Plan against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, received
the endorsement of UN agencies, NGOs and many governments.
countries and NGOs from the Eastern and Southern Africa Region
have since committed themselves to the adoption of the Agenda
for Action. As a follow up to the first World Congress, a second
World Congress is being convened in Yokohama, Japan in December
2001. The second World Congress will review the progress made
by the international community towards the elimination of the
problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Situational Analysis (SitAn), prepared in partnership between
UNICEF and ANNPCAN, seeks to review progress made in the East
and Southern Africa Region in curbing the problem, in preparation
for the Yokohama Congress on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation
SitAn presents the state of sexual exploitation of children in
the East and Southern African Region and measures taken to stop
it. The objectives of the Situational Analysis are:
To assess all forms of sexual exploitation and focus on the links
between non-commercial and commercial sexual exploitation.
Examine all issues related to the sexual exploitation of children
To highlight regional priorities and initiatives in curbing the
practice and make recommendations.
report is based on both primary and secondary data. The secondary
data was collected through an extensive review of current literature
based on studies, surveys, reports and assessments on the issue
of sexual exploitation of children, in general, in the region
since 1996. In particular, an examination and analysis of
program and policy documents, as well as those covering the general
aspects of sexual exploitation of children, has been done. An
extensive search was made of materials on the subject area through
the Internet. Some information has also been obtained through
interviews with key informants, with NGO officials, government
officials and other stakeholders.
Magnitude and Link between CSEC and HIV/AIDS: The magnitude
of the problem of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in
this region can not easily be quantified due to lack of adequate
data and surveillance mechanisms. It is also clear that commercial
sexual exploitation in the region can not be analyzed in isolation
from the broader problems of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.
However, there is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence
that the problem of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation (including
commercial sexual exploitation) of children in the region is an
extensive problem. Children are sexually abused and exploited
in the home, school, community, in the workplace and brothels.
It is also clear that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is both a cause and
consequence of sexual exploitation of children in the region.
Commitment and Status of National Plans: In this region there
is widespread commitment, in principle, to child welfare and protection.
This is exemplified by the signing of the Convention on the Rights
of the Child and public pronouncements of a commitment to the
Stockholm Agenda for Action.
of the countries in the region had also committed themselves to
the development of national plans of action against the Commercial
Sexual Exploitation of Children prior to the to the end of the
year 2000. However, apart from South Africa and Mauritius,
none of the countries in the region have met the targets specified
in their national plans. Most countries in the region are yet
to fully develop and adopt national plans of action. However there
are indications that most countries are taking positive steps
towards completion and adoption of their national plans of action.
Policies and Programs: It appears from the literature that
the Stockholm Congress did encourage increased interest in the
fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children in the
region. Since 1996, many policies, programs and activities have
been put in place in the areas of protection, prevention, recovery
and reintegration within the region. The NGOs, however, seem to
be taking the leading role in this area. In most countries the
role of government seems to be minimal and only restricted to
legislation, a role that most governments are yet to handle effectively.
Although there are efforts to improve legislation to protect
children against CSEC in most countries in the region, it is evident
that many laws are still outdated, flawed, ineffective or difficult
to implement. Most lack specific provisions for CSEC. However,
some countries have recognized the weaknesses in their laws and
as a result, efforts are being made to improve them. Even for
those countries where adequate laws are in place, such as South
Africa, Mauritius and the Seychelles, successful protection is
not possible because law enforcement remains a problem.
Prevention of CSEC in the Eastern and Southern African Region
has mainly been in the form of awareness creation. With the exception
of a few, most countries have carried out awareness raising and
information campaigns, although most of the work has been carried
out by NGOs. However, further work needs to be done towards prevention
of CSEC in the region because other aspects of prevention, such
as access to education, family education and development assistance,
and the promotion of behavioral change in the exploiters have
not been given adequate attention in some countries.
and reintegration: With reference to recovery, rehabilitation
and integration, there are inadequate services available to children
who have been sexually exploited and abused. Except for a few
countries, including Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and the Seychelles,
which have good examples of recovery and reintegration initiatives,
others are doing poorly in this aspect. These countries are yet
to address such issues as counseling, training of those working
with victims, prevention of social stigmatization, provision of
alternative sources of livelihoods to victims and reintegration
of victims into their communities and families.
Success is evident in those countries that have developed national
plans, such as South Africa and Mauritius, where a systematic
approach in tackling the problem of CSEC is emerging. In other
countries in the region, there are piecemeal actions. The greatest
success throughout the region has been increased awareness of
CSEC, which has resulted in more NGOs and community-based associations
being involved in the campaign to tackle CSEC and increased reporting
of cases of CSEC by both children and the public.
The main difficulty encountered throughout the region is a lack
of capacity. Lack of human and financial resources impedes the
tackling of CSEC. This problem is pervasive within relevant government
ministries and the NGO sector. The problem of lack of trained
personnel to work in the area of CSEC has been identified in having
an effect on integration and rehabilitation services. This has
hampered counseling and support services to victims. There is
also an apparent lack of adequate data and information on which
effective interventions in the region can be based.
This report concludes that in order to overcome obstacles to the
implementation of the Stockholm Agenda for Action on CSEC, greater
coordination is required amongst and between non-governmental
organizations and government agencies. The most fundamental change
will have to come from governments, who need to develop political
will and serve as the catalysts for change by taking the commitments
made under the Stockholm Agenda more seriously. A holistic approach
is needed to the fight against all forms of sexual abuse with
full participation of communities and children, taking into account
cultural settings and contexts.
This report recommends that urgent measures need to be taken in
the field of law enforcement, education and recovery, rehabilitation
and integration of victims. Proper legislation needs to be established
and enforced. Law enforcement officials also require education
on how to clamp down on the culture of impunity surrounding CSEC.
More initiatives are also needed to reduce the number of children
getting into the sex trade by giving them alternative methods
of subsistence. Training on recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration
is clearly required in the region. This will equip personnel with
skills and knowledge on how to carry out this work. More specifically
the following is recommended:
is a need to broadly interpret the ‘in-kind’ elements of commercial
sexual exploitation taking into account various cultural contexts.
All initiatives with children, families and communities
need to be culturally sensitive and appropriate. Programs must
build on positive cultural and traditional practices.
Protection, prevention and rehabilitation must be seen
as part of the community’s responsibility and also stress child
There is a need to develop alternative means of livelihoods
for victims and their families.
Research and information gathering must be improved.
is a need to expand training, build capacity and expertise nationally
at the grassroots levels should be intensified.
on legislation and enforcement of the law pertaining to sexual
exploitation of children.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines a child as
a person under the age of 18 years. The CRC, which has been ratified
by every country in the world except the USA and Somalia, provides
for the right of the child against sexual exploitation. Article
Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual
exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties
shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and
multilateral measures to prevent:
The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful
The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful
The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances
19 also provides that the child shall be protected against all
kinds of physical or mental violence, including sexual abuse.
Other relevant articles include Article 35, which says that children
shall be protected from being abducted, sold, or in other ways
treated as merchandise. Also Article 39 observes that children,
who are exploited, exposed to abuse or cruel or degrading treatment
should be helped with rehabilitation.
sexual exploitation is a sub-set of a wider problem of sexual
abuse and exploitation of children. It can therefore not be analyzed
in isolation from the wider problem of sexual abuse and exploitation.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children is old and new; old
in that it includes traditional practices and new in that globalization
and advances in technology are posing a different set of challenges.
Sexual abuse of children entails economic, social and political
aspects, and it takes place in most countries. The global
sex sector is growing, with an accelerated demand for younger
children due to inadequate government intervention and lax law
enforcement particularly in terms of protective measures for children.
the major causes of commercial sexual exploitation of children
include poverty, war and natural disasters, economic injustices,
disputes between rich and poor and large-scale migration and urbanization.
Other factors include lack of education, disintegration of family
and social values, social attitudes, lack of protection to children
at risk and under-funding or failure of social services. Poor
systems of governance and inadequate legal systems also fail to
prevent injustices towards children or to protect them from criminal
acts. Gender discrimination, gender gaps in education and
a double standard of morality for men and women also contribute
to the persistence of inequality and exploitation.
commercial sex services sector includes pornography, prostitution
and trafficking in children for sexual purposes and for profit.
Child exploiters are known to deliberately seek occupations that
put them in frequent contact with children and these perpetrators
of child exploitation include some of highly esteemed members
of society. The child victims of commercial sexual exploitation
worldwide are both boys and girls, although the vast majority
are girls aged between 10 and 18 years. Recent research evidence
suggests that the age of the children involved is decreasing and
the sexual exploitation of children as young as six is increasingly
becoming pervasive (ECPAT, 2000).
commercial sexual exploitation of children often involves violent
forced labor. It comes about due to inadequate or lack of institutional
mechanisms to promote children’s rights, thereby exposing children
to various forms of exploitation. Oppressive aspects of traditional
and society’s assumptions about gender and sexuality, as well
as the low value placed on women and girls, put young girls in
a particularly vulnerable position.
problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children is often
attributed to ‘other countries’ in an attempt to shift attention
from domestic policies and the root causes such as poverty, marginalization
and indifference to the welfare of children. In general,
it is the poor in society who are most vulnerable to sexual exploitation
because they lack both resources and political power. In this
hierarchy in both developed and developing counties, children
are at the bottom. The continued spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic
will greatly increase poverty.
economic and social bases for prostitution remain strong in many
developing countries, largely because social safety valves are
still largely absent, income inequalities remain wide and child
protection mechanisms are ineffective or non-existent (ECPAT1996).
Sexually exploited children often fall outside the social welfare
exploitation of children results in serious and often life-threatening
consequences for physical, psychological and social development,
including threat of early pregnancy, maternal mortality, infancy,
retarded development, physical disabilities and sexually transmitted
disease including HIV/AIDS. At the community level, commercial
sexual exploitation of children represents erosion of common values
and rights. Commercial sexual exploitation of children therefore
constitutes a fundamental violation of children rights. This calls
for concerted efforts to eradicate these practices and to give
children equal rights to others.
the early and mid 1990’s, reports of sexual exploitation of children
became more pervasive. Such reports indicated how children were
being bought and sold, drugged and abused and then finally raped.
There was a surge in public opinion that something had to be done
to address the problem. Initially attention concentrated almost
exclusively on Southeast Asian countries, where cases of child
abuse and exploitation were seen as more pervasive. However, attention
quickly shifted to Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The
organization, Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking
in Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), an active force in the
international battle against the sex trade, was formed in Thailand
in 1991. In order to put the issue of sexual exploitation of children
on to the international political agenda, ECPAT helped in the
organization of the first World Congress Against Commercial Sexual
Exploitation held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1996.
Declaration and Agenda for Action of the World Congress against
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (1996) provided the
following general definition of the practice:
commercial sexual exploitation of children is a fundamental violation
of children’s rights. It comprises sexual abuse by the adult and
remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or
persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial
object. The commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes
a form of coercion and violence against children, and amounts
to forced labor and a contemporary slavery” (ECPAT International,
Stockholm World Congress in 1996 adopted an action plan for the
future battle against the commercial sexual exploitation of children,
which was widely supported by UN agencies, NGOs and many governments
who attended the Congress. This plan of action urged governments
to inter-alia put in place legislation and laws protecting
children from sexual exploitation. The plan further emphasized
prevention work, education and research and points out various
forces in society that must work together to optimize the fight
against sexual exploitation such as authorities, child rights
organizations, travel agencies and the hotel industry.
states participating at the congress bound themselves to have
in place before the year 2000, an international action plan to
combat sexual exploitation of children. This action plan,
which is based on the five years following the 1996 Stockholm
World Congress against commercial sexual exploitation against
children, more concrete partnership has been fostered between
different sectors to counter child sexual exploitation, especially
child prostitution, child pornography and child trafficking for
sexual purposes. More transparency and increased legitimacy
in the fight against sexual exploitation have also characterized
the same period.
year 2000 was given as the year by which all countries are expected
to have formulated a plan or agenda to counter child sexual exploitation.
However, the question is, have these expectations been fulfilled?
1996 the Eastern and Southern African Regional Consultation on
the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, a preparatory
consultative meeting for the First World Congress against the
commercial sexual exploitation of children, was held. This consultation
observed inter-alia that the 1996 World Congress focus
on ‘commercial’ aspects of sexual exploitation did not sufficiently
reflect the concerns of the region. Apart from commercial
sexual abuse of children, it was observed that there were more
alarming occurrences of the non-commercial sexual abuse of children
in the form of domestic violence and incest. It was also suggested
that far more attention needs to be paid to abuse in the home
as both a primary cause of commercial sexual exploitation and
as a far more serious problem in itself. Delegates attending a
Workshop on Child Sexual Exploitation, 9-12 November 1998 at Mukono
in Kampala, also noted that issues relevant to the African situation
were not fully discussed at the world conference (Warbuton and
sexual exploitation in the region exists in many forms, but the
main forms are child prostitution, child pornography, sale and
trafficking in children. Other forms include incest, early
child marriages, rape, sodomy and defilement, kidnapping with
intent to marry or indecent assault. In this region it is becoming
clear that child prostitution, pornography, sex tourism and trafficking
are very intertwined. Usually a child begins in one and
is caught up in the others in the process. It is, however, worth
noting that the non-commercial types of sexual exploitation are
more pervasive than CSEC.
the Eastern and Southern Africa Region, the number of tourists
from western countries has increased dramatically. While most
of these travelers may not deliberately be seeking sex when they
travel, the number of those who make use of commercial sex is
considerable. Domestic tourism also makes a contribution to commercial
reasons have been advanced for the increase in the number of foreign
visitors engaging in sexual exploitation of children in this region:
When tourists come to the region there is anonymity, which releases
them from the usual restraints which determine sexual behavior
in their home countries. Men who would never visit brothels in
their home countries end up doing so especially in the most famous
tourist destinations in the region.
At their destinations, most
tourists may not understand the cultural values of the host communities.
This leads them to make assumptions, which are untrue, but which
allow them rationalize their sexual exploits. For example, it
is common for western tourists exploiting children sexually to
rationalize that this is a way of helping poor children and their
families get some money. They see it as a way of reducing poverty.
Tourism has also been known to
reinforce prejudice. Some foreign visitors to Africa hold strong
ethnocentric views, whether explicit or obscure, about the inferiority
of others. These attitudes may lead them into exploiting children
whom they consider to be inferior.
The relative economic superiority
of western visitors tempts them to sexually exploit and
abuse children. Wealthy local tourists are also known to engage
in the practice.
Sexual exploitation of children
by tourists in this region also persists because children are
readily available. The ease with which tourists in some areas
can obtain children as sexual partners is, in itself, a powerful
incentive for some to try the novelty of a child sexual partner.
Finally, because tourists are often
willing to pay large sums of money for sexual services from children,
the trade in children is becoming lucrative to criminals and therefore
more commonplace in the region.
international organization and promotion of sex tourism takes
place in different ways. First, there are those who see sexual
exploitation of people in the ‘third world’ countries as a ‘hobby’
and would dedicate themselves to providing information for like-minded
individuals on a non-profit making basis, particularly via the
Internet. This involves the exchange of information on sexual
tourism. In the South African region this is becoming more widespread
via the Internet, with some men contributing pornographic accounts
of their exploits with children. Secondly, the lack of legislation
inhibiting the location of pornographic materials on the Internet
allows the persistence of the practice in the Eastern and Southern
Africa Region (Molo Songolo, 2000). Thirdly, the linkage between
sexual tourism and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation
in the region is increasingly becoming evident.
Malawi, the incidence of children being abused by tourists is
very prominent. Mumba (1998) notes that there is illegal exploitation
of children by expatriates. Foreigners who pose as philanthropists
also sexually exploit boys in tourist areas. The abusers have
been reported to be ordinary men and substance abusers, with some
of the men being married.
prostitution generally refers to the use of a child in sexual
activities for remuneration or any other considerations (ECPAT,
2001). The term prostitution is widely used but there is a growing
concern that it obscures the nature of sexually abusive behavior,
wrongfully focuses on the concept of informed consent and frames
the children as offenders rather than the victims.
prostitution is an emerging phenomenon in Kenya and all the other
countries in the region. There are an increasing number of young
children entering prostitution as a means of survival. Many of
the children in Kenya are exposed to sex at an early age, especially
children from slum areas (CWSK, 1989;Okumu, 1992).
overwhelming majority of children in Kenya are abused in the streets.
They are either orphaned, destitute or from families facing conflicts
or too poor to offer children the necessities of life. The large
numbers of child domestic workers are also likely to be abused
as house servants. Due to peer pressure and influence, these
children take off to the streets to hustle for money (Onyango,
1996). This trend has also been reported in other countries in
the region (Molo Songolo, 2000; Nyonyintono, 1998; UNICEF, 2000).
unique feature of child prostitution has been noted in Kenya:
this is communal living of child prostitutes who cannot afford
to live alone. Communal premises may be used for sexual purposes;
otherwise the perpetrators usually take the children to other
places such as boarding and lodging hotels. Adults also
keep children in their own houses for sale and hire them out as
prostitutes. People take in destitute children, but instead of
taking care of them, they hire the children out from time to time
as prostitutes. Some children are also kept in brothels
alongside adult prostitutes. This is common in Mombasa, Malindi,
and Nairobi. This kind of prostitution seems to occur unnoticed.
Brothels in Mombasa are mainly located in residential areas and
deal mainly in male children. In Nairobi, brothels are mainly
registered as ‘Bar and Restaurant’, and deal mainly with female
children (Onyango, 1996).
border town trade between Kenya and Uganda has also contributed
to child prostitution. As family members carry out business to
earn a living along the boarder towns, with their children beside
them, the children are exploited and become integrated into the
business. This also increases the frequency of contact of young
children with the older children as well as with the adults. After
several years of contact and trade, many children learn to use
sex as a means of crossing the boarders, attracting little suspicion
from border authorities.
for many children is one of the only survival options available
to them and with the growth of sex tourism, more and more youngsters
are attracted to the tourist areas in order to make money.
Some parents also actively encourage their daughters to make money
in this way with the ultimate hope the daughters may find a tourist
who will marry them and provide them and their family with new
financial and travel possibilities (Marsen, 1989). Among sex workers,
it is the younger ones who have less experience and less bargaining
power and are the most exploited.
sex tourism in Kenya is a form of sexual exploitation particularly
for the boy child. Although accurate data on this phenomenon is
lacking, it is a feature of sex tourism in Kenya associated with
coastal towns such as Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu. Tourist agents,
both local and foreign, are reported to direct and guide tourists
to special child prostitutes. For example, in Malindi, many European
tour operators and tourists engage in this practice. Tour organizers
normally employ children as traditional dancers and often the
tourists request the sexual services of these performers (CWSK,
South Africa and Zambia, child prostitution is apparent.
In South Africa, there are reports of children who are involved
in commercial sex work, either on the streets, in hotels or sex
clubs in major cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria
and Durban. In Zambia, child prostitution exists throughout
the country with the worst affected towns being Lusaka and Livingstone.
High incidences of HIV/AIDS in the Southern Africa region have
resulted in younger and younger children being prostitutes in
South Africa and Zambia. In South Africa children as young
as eight have been found in brothels while in Zambia ten-year-old
girls are also reported (Molo Songolo, 2000).
child prostitution areas in Kampala, Uganda include slum areas
in Katanga, Kisenyi, and around Owino market. In lodges and bars
in these areas, girls are supposedly employed as workers, but
in reality the bar owner gives them this ‘front’ to attract clients
who pay for sex. The girl gives a commission to the bar owner
and earns a living that way. The girls also provide such services
as cleaning, bed making, fetching water and related hotel chores
(Mwaka, 1998). This practice is also common in major cities in
the East and Southern Africa Region.
pornography is any representation, by whatever means, of a child
engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any
representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual
purposes (ECPAT, 2001). This practice, which involves production
of pornographic films, photos and video material of children or
the exposure of such materials to children, is banned in most
countries within the East and Southern Africa Region. However,
the practice goes on clandestinely, especially in major cities
because of the existence of technologies such as the Internet.
production of child pornography in most countries within the East
and Southern Africa Region is not well documented and pornographic
materials are thought to mainly originate from abroad. However,
there are reports of women and children being enticed into the
production of pornographic materials in the region. Private,
wealthy individuals import pornographic material illegally. This
form of sexual exploitation has been found to be widespread in
the coastal towns of Kenya and major tourist destinations in South
Africa and many other towns in the region (Schurink, 1996). Cases
of child pornography are rarely reported and examples are hard
to come by because of its illegal nature.
on child pornography is therefore limited as it is hard to detect
and is considered taboo in the region. In South Africa, child
pornography involving both boys and girls is increasing and is
also readily available. There have been incidences of pornographic
films and photographs being sold by locals on the international
market at the request of foreigners (Molo Songolo, 2000). Lack
of information technology has also inhibited child pornography
from spreading rapidly in the region.
pornography is the sexually explicit reproduction of a child’s
image. It is in itself a form of commercial sexual exploitation
of children. Encouraging, forcing or fooling children (often
with the use of drugs) to pose for pornographic photographs or
to take part in pornographic videos is demeaning and designed
to take away a child’s dignity and self respect. It reduces
the value of the child’s body to nothing, teaching the child that
the body is for sale and has no other value. Consequently, it
is usually a first step towards prostitution.
pornography also involves coercion and violence, which are sometimes
part of the story-line of video or photo shoots and are regularly
inflicted on the unwilling child to secure submission and co-operation.
Some exploiters satisfy their sexual fantasies by producing child
pornography, playing a part themselves. Images of children
engaged in sex, or posing, whether still or video, are used to
increase demand for child sex.
children in the East and South African Region are increasingly
being trafficked from rural to urban areas through intermediaries
or by loosely organized crime networks. Trafficking of children
for sexual purposes is a growing problem in the region.
In the region, South Africa is one of the main trafficking centers
and is also the main country to receive children who are trafficked.
Young girls from both Zambia and Mozambique have been found to
be working in the sex industry in major South African cities,
including Durban and Johannesburg. Unconfirmed reports indicate
that children from South Africa are sent to European countries
for sexual purposes. It is thought that Zambian girls are
trafficked to third countries such as USA, Israel and Russia via
South Africa (O’Connell and Sanchez, 1996).
South Africa the trafficking of children is predominantly an in-country
phenomenon. Most children are trafficked within the vicinity of
their place of origin. Girl children are the primary targets,
although boy children have also been identified as victims. Girl
children range in age from four to seventeen years. Parents and
local gangs are the primary traffickers of children and sometimes
collude with each other. Traffickers in South Africa are predominantly
locals (Molo Songolo, 2000).
the cross-border trafficking of children the main traffickers
are foreigners. They are mainly individuals and crime syndicates
from Eastern Europe, Mozambique and Thailand.
usually takes various forms:
A child is forced to submit to sexual exploitation by a family
acquaintance or a person in authority. This may be done through
abduction, deception or coercion. The child is used as a surrogate
wife, to cook and to clean. She is raped and abused physically.
The inclusion of this phenomenon as a form of trafficking draws
on the voices raised by the Eastern and Southern African consultation
to the Stockholm conference. The argument was for the broadening
of the definition of commercial sexual exploitation to include
all forms of sexual abuse against children (Friedman, 1996; Molo
Songolo, 2000). This practice is in essence a non-commercial practice,
but it is linked to a number of elements identified with trafficking.
These elements include abduction and removal of a child from his/
her place of residence, the use of the child as a surrogate wife,
where the child is involved in domestic and sexual labor against
Trafficking of children into the sex industry by children already
in the industry. In this instance children will either recruit
their siblings or friends or will recruit children living on the
street. This recruitment is not necessarily for street prostitution
alone. Children have been trafficked in this manner and found
themselves in foreign countries.
New or relatively established business ventures advertise in national
and local newspapers, for teenage girls of working age, to work
in the hospitality or film industry. This work turns out to be
work in the sex industry. The process by which the child is coerced
into sex work appears to be similar to the manner in which syndicates
and individual gangs operate.
In some countries there is trafficking of children from rural
to urban areas to work as domestic helpers for prosperous families.
There are also cases where poor parents give their children for
foster care to foreigners in good faith on the understanding that
the children will be given free education overseas. Indications
are that some of them end up being sexually exploited.
marriages are a form of sexual exploitation. In Kenya child marriages
are common especially among the pastoral communities, in districts
including Kajiado, Transmara, Moyale, Wajir and Mandera. In some
communities children are married off when they are as young as
six years old. A man’s wealth in these communities is the overriding
factor in child marriages, not his potency. The richer a man,
the larger the number of child brides he can afford.
strife in neighboring countries such as Uganda has also been cited
as a reason for child marriages (Mwaka, 1998). In Kenya,
on the Busia border, early marriages are mainly between children
running away from Uganda and Kenyan old men. This phenomenon has
also been reported in other parts of the region where there is
civil strife, such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi
and Mozambique (Friedman, 1996).
the East and Southern Africa Region, early marriage is closely
associated with a society’s concept of children and the situation
of any given child. In Uganda and Kenya, for example, cultural
practices such as initiation ceremonies and the view that the
onset of puberty is the cut-off point between childhood and womanhood,
means that adolescents are not defined as children in many cultural
practices. This is also the basis for early marriage (Kalemera
and Sameji, 1998).
HIV/AIDS epidemic has also contributed to early marriages (UNICEF,2000).
Many adult males seek out young girls for sex and/or marriage
in the belief that they are free from HIV, that they are easy
to please and control and on the basis that they lack the means
to cause trouble in case the relationship does not work out. These
are all beliefs and practices which have increased the incidence
of early marriage and sexual exploitation of under-age girls.
who are married off prematurely are usually not attending school,
either because they never went to school, or because they dropped
out of school, but in either case, the root cause being poverty.
Thus because the view that a girl who is not in school or in marriage
is ‘doing nothing’, there is considerable pressure on the parents/guardians
to settle them in marriage before they get ‘spoilt’. However,
there is a lot of debate as to whether early marriage is sexual
abuse or sexual exploitation or both. Proponents of early marriage
say that it is in the best interest of the child to settle her
in marriage before she becomes sexually active and destroys her
chances of marriage.
Kenya some parents are known to marry off their young girls to
older men in order to obtain money to meet educational fees for
their male siblings and for other purposes. In pastoral communities,
early marriages are common where parents marry off their young
girls in exchange for livestock. These exchanges, of cattle for
girls and women, form an integral part of the local economy.
Malawi, one of the factors contributing to the phenomenon of child
marriage is the shift in the age of menarche. Around 30 - 40 years
ago, many girls attained menarche later than is currently the
case. Once a girl reaches menarche, she is considered mature enough
for marriage. As girls generally reach menarche at an earlier
age now than 30 – 40 years ago, they are forced into marriage
at an earlier age (Kaponda, 2000).
consequences of early marriage for girls in the region are severe.
According to the Uganda National Population Secretariat Report
of 1997, women and girls die prematurely due to poor health because
girls/women produce babies ‘too early, too often and too long’.
In other words, many die because the mother is under age (too
early) and another proportion dies because of poor child spacing
(too often). Thus, some healthy under-age mothers suffer by having
children too often and eventually die.
young girls marry into ongoing families as second or third wives
and face competition and related stress and strain at a tender
age. The hardship of dealing with a polygamous marriage and parenting
is often beyond the capacity of an under-age wife.
is little quantifiable data on CSEC in the region. However, there
is an overwhelming amount of evidence that sexual exploitation
and abuse (including commercial sexual exploitation of children)
is a massive problem. Indeed, there is a clear indication that
sexual abuse and exploitation of children within the home, school
and workplace is widespread in the region. Such children are more
likely to end up in commercial sex work (Kaponda, 2000).
of the major problems that have hindered efforts to establish
a broader knowledge base, which could inform and direct efforts
and policies, is the inconsistent use of phrases such as ‘sexual
exploitation of children’. The discrepancies create lack of clarity
about what programs and policies are actually addressing in reality.
There are differences in the usage of the terms ‘child’, ‘young
person’, ‘prostitute’, ‘prostituted’, ‘sexually abused’, ‘victim’,
‘survivor’ or ‘abuser’. While in some instances the difference
is accurate and relevant, in other cases, practitioners working
in the field may consider the language used as inappropriate.
It may be seen as conveying certain negative values and perceptions,
or even as demeaning. Linking the abuse of children through
commercial sexual exploitation, with incest, and other forms of
sexual abuse, may be confusing when seeking to identify commonalties
of approach and in gathering incidents about the scale of the
problem. The sheer scale and magnitude of the problem is therefore
a matter of conjecture largely due to ambiguity in the definition
and interpretation of the term ‘child sexual abuse’ and social
stigma associated with the act of child sexual abuse.
problem of acquiring statistics on the magnitude of the problem
in the region is further complicated by the fact that most of
the cases go unreported. Those that are reported seldom reach
a satisfactory conclusion according to existing laws. Information
on male children who are sexually abused and exploited is also
lacking. The major reasons for poor statistics include:
Fear of shame and stigmatization of the victims and their families,
or reluctance on the part of the family to report, especially
where the perpetrator is dominant, richer and/or more powerful
in the community.
Poor reporting by victims themselves to adults caretakers/family
members occurs due to a lack of awareness (young children), fear
that the child himself/herself may be considered to have consented
and be held responsible, or even where the perpetrator is an authority
figure (teachers, employers, extended family head or members on
whom the child is dependent).
Lack of faith in the official law enforcement mechanisms (police,
courts of law) coupled with weak capacity of these agencies also
leads to under-reporting of cases.
the lack of statistics, there can be no doubt that commercial
sexual exploitation of children in the East and Southern Region
of Africa is increasing and needs to be curbed. Commercial sexual
exploitation of children in the region remains largely a street
children phenomenon, as opposed to other non-commercial aspects
of sexual exploitation. In Africa’s major cities, poverty
remains the major driving force behind child prostitution. It
is an issue of survival, where children sell sex in exchange for
money, food, clothing or school fees.
study conducted in Malawi, found that childhood sexual abuse acts
are perpetrated by someone responsible for child care such as
parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, stepfathers/mothers, grand parents,
daycare providers, baby sitters, teachers, other professionals
and adults in general. Such kinds of sexual abuse may include
incest, which is a type of sexual exploitation between blood relatives
or surrogate relatives before victims reach the age of 18 years
(Kaponda, 2000). This type of abuse has been reported in
some other countries in the region (Mwaka,1998; Ratter,1998).
Some children who have been abused in this way are reported to
end up on the streets.
shows that a rise in the incidence of sexual exploitation in Namibia
has been attributed to poverty. In Lesotho, street children
are a growing problem in the capital city of Maseru. According
to a Human Rights Watch (2001) study, South African girls continue
to be raped, sexually abused, sexually harassed and assaulted
at school by male classmates and teachers. For many South African
girls, violence and abuse are an inevitable part of the school
environment. Indeed, while girls in South Africa may have better
access to school than their counterparts in other sub-Saharan
African countries, sexual violence and sexual harassment impede
their access to education on equal terms with male students.
Violence against women in South African society generally is widely
recognized and has reached levels amongst the highest in the world
(Human Rights Watch, 2001). Sexual violence and harassment go
unchallenged and currently constitute a significant hurdle to
equal opportunities for South African girls. The suffering and
state of poverty that some of these children face sometimes drives
them into commercial sex as the only viable means of a livelihood.
three South Africa provinces visited by Human Rights Watch (2001),
cases of rape, assault and sexual harassment of girls committed
by both teachers and male students were documented. Girls
were fondled, raped in school toilets, empty classrooms, hallways
and in hostels and dormitories. Years of violent enforcement of
apartheid policies have fueled a culture of violence.
Kenya, it has been noted that even when children have school fees
paid, additional factors can force them to drop out of school
as a result of physical, verbal and sexual abuse. The children
reported severe beatings and punishment by teachers. They were
also made to fetch water or clean the school compound or in extreme
cases, clean the teacher’s compound in order to receive passing
grades. Some girls in particular are forced to provide sexual
services to teachers to avoid repeated harassment. Those who resist
completely often have to bow out of school if these harassment
persist (UNICEF, 2001).
increasing numbers of child laborers in the region has contributed
to the sexual exploitation of children. For example, the Ministry
of Labor in Kenya has identified the problem of children working
in agriculture, particularly on coffee and tea plantations, as
being of great national concern. It estimates that some 17,000
children were engaged in contractual employment on various plantations
between 1995 and 1998 in contravention of national labor laws.
In the absence of any clear employment criteria, most of these
children, especially the girls, are employed after providing sexual
favors to the plantation managers. Children with a contract represent
a small percent of the overall children working since plantation
owners employ the great majority unprotected by contract under
the pretext of helping their parents (UNICEF, 2001). According
to Okumu (1992) some of these children in Kenya have ended up
in the sex trade, especially when such types of sexual abuse have
persisted. In Malawi, the government also acknowledges an increase
in child labor, especially on tobacco and tea estates (Government
of Malawi, 2000).
plantation workers of both sexes described being sexually abused
by men in the plantations in the evening while awaiting transport
to return to their houses. Farm managers or supervisors were reported
to take advantage of the prevailing poverty to have sexual relations
with the daughters of employees in exchange for money, food or
even school fees (UNICEF, 2001).
Malawi, lack of research and statistical information about the
nature and extent of commercial sexual exploitation of children
hinders the knowledge regarding the magnitude of the problem (Kaponda,
2000). In Uganda, child prostitution is on the increase
especially in Kampala and other urban areas of the country (Nyonyintono,
1998). In Burundi, the government admits that as a result of poverty,
children frequently abandon their families at an early age to
look for a job, which may be in prostitution.
to Kaponda (2000), child labor in Malawi has existed for a long
time. Most parents rear their children in anticipation of receiving
assistance from them. These expectations tend to differ according
to the parent’s education and occupation. Those parents with no
regular source of income tend to depend on the entire family members
to contribute in different ways to the running and earnings of
the family. It is through such kinds of principles that, apart
from physical and mental abuse, children may end up doing anything,
including commercial work to meet family demands (Nyanda, 1995).
some districts in Malawi, there are still traditional practices
that encourage sex between young girls and older men. In places
where this happens, as an initiation into adult life, young girls
are given older men to have sex with. This is supposedly meant
to serve two purposes: firstly, it is intended to give the little
girl experience of sex and secondly, it gives the girl a different
social status (Kaponda, 2000). When young children are initiated
into sexual activities they may end up in the sex trade later
in life as a means of survival, especially in cases of poverty.
therefore follows that commercial sexual exploitation in the region
can only be analyzed in the context of the wider problem of sexual
abuse and exploitation of children.
is both a cause and consequence of CSE in the region. From the
onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1981 through to the end of 1998,
8.5 million people in the Eastern and South African region died
of the disease. In at least five countries in the region, more
than 25% of pregnant women test HIV- positive. The epidemic is
currently increasing the number of children who are orphans. It
is estimated that six million of the region’s children have been
orphaned by AIDS, which accounts for 70% of the region’s children
under 15 who have lost one or both parents A further 700,000 children
are infected with the disease – over 60% of the world’s infected
children. The majority of the AIDS orphans in the region are forced
to earn a living on the streets through prostitution (UNICEF 2001).
is impossible to estimate how many thousands, if not millions,
of African children are being sexually exploited (Hammis, 1996).
With conflicts in at least half a dozen countries and five million
AIDS orphans by the year 2000 and an expected 40 million by 2010,
the number of cases is expected to soar. In Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, half of the 100,000 prostitutes are under 18 years of
age according to Save the Children (Hammis, 1996).
Kenya, children get themselves into the sex industry through relatives,
neighbors, friends and through pimps. The perpetrators are
local people, migrant workers, expatriates, child workers, schoolboys
and boyfriends, tourists and adults who think that young girls
are safe from HIV/AIDS. The age range of children who are sexually
exploited is from 9 -17 years with the average age being 15 years
(Okumu, 1992). Most of the children who are exploited are
schoolgirls, but sometimes boys, young migrant girls, domestic
servants or those previously domestic servants, girls whose mothers
are prostitutes or were, beach boys and girls and school dropouts
(Chissim, 1998). The spread of the disease and its deadly consequences
has led to the dangerous myth that sex with a virgin or young
girl will either cure or prevent AIDS, which in turn has stimulated
child prostitution. The growing number of sexually exploited children
has also contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS among the group.
culture allows for children to work within the family, the extended
family and often the community, but the region’s current economic
woes, compounded by HIV/AIDS, have distorted traditional forms
of child work into exploitative practices (UNICEF, 2001). The
devastating impact of the pandemic on the household forces parents
and children to look for ways of surviving. For children,
many move to urban areas to work as domestic servants while others,
due to low social economic status, particularly as a result of
education, have difficulty in finding good paying jobs and their
only alternative is child prostitution and drugs, where they are
exploited. In the sex trade, these children are faced with
the risk of HIV/AIDS, STIs and physical abuse and hence, the cycle
from the Ministry of Health (MoH) AIDS Surveillance Project of
the AIDS Control Program in Uganda, have shown that HIV infection
is six times higher among young girls than boys. The difference
in rates begins as early as nine years old and reaches a peak
for the age-group 12-19 years old. This is a result
of old men, who are already sexually active, seeking young girls
for sexual exploits in the belief that they are free from HIV
Ethiopia AIDS has orphaned an estimated 1.2 million children since
the beginning of the epidemic. A 1998 government study revealed
an increase in the number of working children, with 40% of the
children moving to urban areas under the age of 14. The belief
that increasing industrialization of cities will provide employment
opportunities has resulted in a consistent influx of unaccompanied
children to the cities, some of whom end up on the streets where
they are bound to join the sex trade. It has been estimated that
the number of street children in Addis is 40,000, of whom 10,000
are living and working on the streets with no care or support.
The remaining 30,000 children earned their living on the streets
and then returned home to their families, relatives or friends.
1999, the National AIDS Council in Kenya reported that there were
860,000 AIDS orphans. AIDS forces children into the labor market
but not only the orphans, as the disease ravages the entire economy.
Currently an estimated 3.5 million children aged between 6 - 15
are working. This constitutes approximately 10% of the entire
population or 27% of all children in Kenya as working children.
The Kenyan Ministry of Labor recognizes that poverty and AIDS
are key constraints to the elimination of child labor. Other
obstacles include lack of collaboration between different stakeholders
(national, regional and international), inadequate legislation
and poor enforcement of existing labor laws and the breakdown
of family units.
Lesotho, almost 60% of reported cases developing from HIV
and full-blown AIDS are women aged 20 - 39 years. Antenatal testing
has also shown that 11% of pregnant teenagers are HIV positive.
Each year, approximately 20% of all pregnant and lactating mothers
are reported HIV positive. Some 2,000 - 3,000 children are born
HIV positive. Many HIV positive women simply assume their
newborns are HIV positive and abandon the infants in the hospitals.
UNAIDS (1998) estimates that 35,000 children in Lesotho aged 14
or younger have lost their mother or both parents to HIV/AIDS
since the beginning of the epidemic in 1989. Projections
also show that children without either parents or both parents
are likely to constitute 15% of the population under 15 by 2010.
Faced with responsibility of caring for a terminally ill parent,
many children are forced to earn income for their own survival,
their parent’s survival and even the survival of their entire
extended family household. Orphaned teenage girls are forced
into prostitution in order to maintain their families, while boys
become street children. This phenomenon is common throughout the
region. Girls working as domestic workers in Maseru, the capital
of Lesotho are exposed to sexual abuse while those working as
commercial sex workers get exposed to HIV/AIDS, STIs and physical
and emotional abuse as some customers refuse to pay (UNICEF, 2001).
to UNAIDS (1998) more than 400,000 children under 15 have been
orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. By 2005, the number
is expected to be in excess of 1 million. The major cause of the
rapid spread of HIV/AIDS has been attributed to poverty. Orphans
and other children affected by AIDS are forced to drop out of
school to tend sick relatives or support the family. Many
children leave school to work as a result of family poverty and
family breakdown. Most of the orphaned children in Mozambique
consequently work in the informal sector, usually as traders,
prostitutes and domestic workers, in commercial agriculture, fisheries
and seaweed cultivation. Others work in small enterprises,
small industrial workshops, service entertainment, small-scale
mining, factories, the transport industry and forestry. Such girls
are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Many are mistreated
and physically and sexually abused.
Tanzania, the capital Dar-Es-Salaam is the main employment center
for house girls. Most girls are recruited from areas such
as Makiete and Musindi Districts in Iringa region. Domestic workers
are expected to be obedient, hardworking and resilient. These
two districts act as unofficial trafficking centers for domestic
servants and are believed to have relatively high rates of mortality
from AIDS (UNICEF, 2001). Young girls are more likely to be enticed
to leave their village to work as house girls after completing
primary school at around 12 or 13 years. Girls of secondary school
age are, however, more likely to leave town on their own initiative
for employment in the cities moving in with relatives where possible.
A growing trend has been found where employers were seeking out
older girls and young women for domestic work, as they are trustworthy
and less likely to steal from them. Most girls work to support
their families or to escape poverty. However, they too face problems
of physical and verbal abuse, emotional isolation due to lack
of opportunities to meet and talk with peers and occasionally
they suffer from molestation or rape by their employers or employers’
kin (Kibuga, 2000).
the world, Uganda has the highest number of children orphaned
by HIV/AIDS. An estimated 11% of all children under the
age of 15 (around one million) have lost one or both parents to
AIDS. In a country of 21 million, one out of every 20 people is
a child orphaned by AIDS (UNICEF, 2001). The 1995 Uganda Demographic
and Health Survey (UDHS) found that 25% of all households included
foster children under 15. These increasingly large households,
coupled with the deaths of parents and young adults to care for
the children, are stressing the extended family system almost
beyond endurance, leaving older orphans or surviving grandparents
to care for several orphans at a time and many leave schools to
care for themselves, their siblings and the family.
conflicts in the north and southwest of Uganda, which have been
marked by brutality and terror, are also factors causing the child
labor problem in the country. In Uganda, children are recruited
into armed conflicts. They are abducted, separated from their
family, kept in captivity, and taught to kill and terrorize other
children and adults. Approximately 10,000 children, some
of then as young as six years old, have been abducted by the rebel
faction, and taken to the Sudan. UNICEF (2001) estimates
that altogether some 300,000 children are affected by armed conflict
in Uganda. Since extended family or clan networks are being disrupted
by the dissolution of the family, many rural families split up,
with some members moving to the towns to avoid potential abduction
of their children into the conflict. Others take refuge
in camps for the displaced with only a few remaining in the rural
Kabarole District in Uganda, where HIV/AIDS prevalence is highest,
nearly half of the district’s inhabitants are under 15.
Armed conflict and rebel attacks are causing an increase in the
number of internally displaced persons in Uganda and the most
affected are children. As of July 2000, 40% of internally
displaced people were children under 14 (Ratter, 1998). Since
much of the population has fled to the safety of the camps or
to relatives in other parts of the country, the labor intensive
cash crops previously tended by adults including bananas and tea
are now tended by abandoned or managed by orphaned children.
This has led to the intensification of poverty, and since in most
cases it is the girl child who takes care of other children, attempts
to generate resources to feed other children would push the girl
child into prostitution and the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS (Tumushabe,
Lira District in Uganda, children are forced into camps as displaced
persons and have to develop new roles and strategies to survive.
Among child soldiers, the main hazard is death apart from sexually
transmitted diseases. Among the lakeshore fishing villages,
children work long hours through the night and frequently have
accidents while working in unsafe canoes, generally without life
jackets. They also contract waterborne diseases such as
schistosomiasis, but cannot afford treatment. The children
complain of chest pains and fatigue from carrying heavy loads
as well as choking from smoke fumes. Early marriage and
rape are common in Lira District and abduction of children is
still common practice. This area has been reported to have a large
number of young people living with HIV/AIDS (Mwaka, 1998, Tumushabe,
the East and Southern Africa Region, the causes of commercial
sexual exploitation of children are diverse. While it may be easy
to place blame on criminal syndicates, to reduce exploiters to
pimps and perverts, to disparage the children themselves as promiscuous
or sexually irresponsible, no social sectors can escape responsibility
for sexual exploitation of children. An array of factors responsible
for the sexual exploitation of children within the East and Southern
Africa Region include economic injustice, rapid social change
and urbanization, migration, civil disorders and family disintegration.
are also historic and continuing cultural values that are oppressive
to girls and women - westernization of society and the influx
of materialist values and goods perpetrated by the media and the
subsequent deterioration of traditional community and cultural
Poverty: Large numbers of the population in the region are
chronically disadvantaged economically and have little access
to alternative sources of livelihoods. The demands of survival
for this group can precipitate sex trade.
stricken families send their children to towns to look for employment
but since they are illiterate, they are unable to secure well
paid employment, which in turn leads to incidences of sexual abuse
is also a major factor in increasing incidences of commercial
sexual exploitation of children. The pressure to own, buy
and rent, reinforced through advertising, TV and video images,
magazines and the entertainment media, encourages those who do
not value their children and respect their rights to trade them
for something they want. Children are also under pressure
from peers to prostitute their bodies for money to buy consumer
items they cannot otherwise afford.
Adjustment Programs (SAPS) have also contributed heavily to the
continuing spiral of poverty, child prostitution and continued
poverty. Most countries within the East and Southern Africa Region
have experienced severe cuts in government spending on essential
social services such as education. This has resulted in massive
school dropout rates since most families are unable to pay school
expenses. In Zambia, for example, cutbacks in social services
lead to an annual educational allocation of 25 cents per child
per year. Apart from increases in school dropout rates,
this leads to lack of skill development among children.
Lack of Education and Low
Status of Women: Ignorant, poorly educated and marginalized
sectors of society provide a steady source of children who can
be easily be coerced or enticed into the sex trade. The
low status of girls and women is a cause and a consequence of
lack of access to education. Lack of education prevents most girls
from acquiring adequate knowledge or skills for productive employment
as women. In Zambia, the incidence of HIV/AIDS among young
women aged 15-19, is seventeen times higher than in the same age
group of boys. Lack of education renders most girls easy targets
for sexual exploitation.
all over the region large numbers of young girls continue to drop
out of school because of pregnancy, which leaves them susceptible
to sexual abuse and exploitation.
Legislation: Within certain countries in the region, there
is weak, confusing, and contradictory legislation which often
renders the sexually exploited child a criminal rather than a
victim, or classifies them outside the category of children for
who protection is warranted.
Governance and Civil Disorder: Government corruption aggravates
a confusing legislative framework, where those charged with enforcing
certain protection measures benefit from the continued exploitation
of children economically or through demanding sexual services.
These include the police and members of the judiciary.
political will effectively colludes with the exploiters. Here
the incidence of prostituted children may be regarded as an economic
benefit that directly benefits the exploiters, who are supporters
of and in turn, supported by political decision-makers.
political turmoil that has persisted in some countries in the
region has seen large populations of unattached men exploit young
girls and boys. The methods such men use to induce children into
the sex range from rape, threats of violence, imprisonment or
even enslavement of the children. In Uganda, the Lords Resistance
Movement/Army has abducted over 10,000 boys and girls in the last
2 years subjecting them to war, in addition to sexual exploitation
ravaged Angola and other trouble-torn countries, such as Ethiopia,
Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia, have produced large
populations of refugees and internally displaced families. The
families are subjected to sub-standard living conditions and severe
psychosocial stresses. These children, as well as those separated
from their families, become especially vulnerable to the exigencies
of their situation and become easy prey to sexual exploitation
by local and international armed forces.
HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS is a cause and a consequent of sexual exploitation
of children. The spread of the disease and its deadly consequences
has led to the dangerous myth that sex with a virgin or young
girl will either cure or prevent AIDS, which in turn has stimulated
an increase in child prostitution. The growing number of
sexually exploited children has contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS
among the most vulnerable population. It has also led to
a huge rise in the number of orphans and child headed households
where children must be wage earners, often resulting in survival
sex and child prostitution as the only recourse. By the year 2000
the number of AIDS orphans in the region was estimated to be over
5 million and expected to rise to 40 million by 2010 (UNICEF,
Traditions, Cultural Beliefs and Practices: Traditional African
culture allows for children to work within the family, the extended
family and often the community. The region’s current economic
woes compounded by HIV/AIDS and natural and man-made disasters
have disturbed traditional forms of child work transforming them
into exploitative practices. The dissolution of families
through HIV/AIDS increases the likelihood of children being forced
into exploitative labor. Often children take the responsibility
of managing households, thereby diminishing their meager opportunities
are certain communities in the region where sex with virgins is
seen to have restorative/healing powers. In such cases there is
always demand for younger children to provide sexual services.
This type of case has also been reported in Malawi, where some
men are advised by witchdoctors to sleep with very young girls
who have not been defiled by anybody else if they wanted to get
rich (Kaponda, 2000).
is also the desire by some men to prove their masculinity and
avoid the shame of their sexual inadequacies being discovered.
The child is deemed not capable of judging the sexual competence
of a man and is therefore an easy target.
Demand for Sexual Services: The phenomenon of sugar daddies
and sugar mummies is common in the region in countries such as
Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa, and Mozambique and is
steadily rising in Zimbabwe. Children are wooed by gifts,
presents, money and other material rewards in return to sex.
tourism is growing due to an influx of tourists in the region.
Pimps, madams, middlemen and parents or others facilitate child
prostitution in many societies within the region. Child
prostitution occurs in brothels, massage parlors, streets, bars
and discotheques. Lower prices charged by young girls sometimes
fuel the demand for child prostitutes. The girl prostitutes
are easily controlled by bar owners and ‘madams’ and hence owners
of brothels seek out young girls since they can easily be exploited.
Urbanization: High unemployment has prompted rural-urban migration
leading to a breakdown of the extended family system and a concentration
of single males in urban areas. The prohibitive immigration
laws, such as in South Africa, which inhibit migrant workers from
taking along their wives further exacerbate the demand for and
supply of available girls and young women for sex. Meanwhile,
the wives and families they have left behind are often forced
to seek out a living in demeaning and degrading ways such as sex
most countries the rate of urbanization is very high leading to
congestion and poor living conditions in urban areas. This creates
an environment where young children are likely to get in close
contact with older people or other children who are likely to
entice them into sexual acts.
Individual and Family Factors: Modernization and urbanization
have led to the break up of communities and disintegration of
family structures leaving children vulnerable. Apart from contaminating
children with immoral foreign culture, children are also exposed
to the sex trade as a means of survival.
is an increase in the phenomenon of single parenthood in the region.
Some children raised by single parents rebel and are likely to
get involved in sex trade.
marriages leave children distraught, and without proper support.
Children are often mistreated by stepparents and run away from
homes ending up as prostitutes or child laborers. Orphans who
lack care and support are at risk of being exploited and street
children are also more vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
abuse is both a direct cause and consequence of survival sex and
child prostitution. In some countries, parents make their children
available for sexual exploitation as a way of earning money or
in exchange for the invalidation of family debts (Kaponda, 2000).
Kenya, most of the causes of commercial sexual exploitation include
rejection within the family, school dropouts and breakdown of
traditional values. Kenya has recorded a high urban population
growth rate of 45.7% annually. This has resulted in a population
explosion, deterioration of living standards, overcrowding and
high unemployment. It has also resulted in a phenomenal increase
in the number of street girls who hawk or beg during the day and
prostitute at night.
countries such as Ethiopia where traditionally famine, drought
and change of season have contributed to migration of children
from rural to urban areas in economic crisis, political instability
and displacement caused by war have spurred rapid and uncontrolled
urbanization. Such a kind of scenario is fertile ground for the
sexual exploitation of children (UNICEF, 2001).
some families especially in the urban areas, parents suffer from
physical or mental illness, drug abuse and alcoholism. Such parents
tend to neglect their children, thereby contributing to the increase
of the number of children on the streets. Children are also sometimes
forced to leave the family home as a result of physical or sexual
abuse by older family members. Some young people are also induced
into the sex trade as a means of financing their drug habits.
Others use drugs to deaden their awareness of the abuse to which
they are being subjected. This has led to a vicious cycle of dependence.
In their quest for drugs, all too often they find themselves involved
in the sex trade to finance their drug addiction.
Demographic Factors : The rate of population growth in the
region is very high. This means that the largest percentage of
the population is generally young. This has increased the dependency
ratio. With the increasing poverty in the region young people
are finding it difficult to make ends meet making them vulnerable
to sexual exploitation.
impact of commercial sexual exploitation on a child is enormous.
The child loses its childhood, its dignity and often its future.
These are unquantifiable costs, but there are consequences of
exploitation, which can be readily measured. The most obvious
of these relates is the health of the child. HIV/AIDS is
both a cause and consequence of commercial sexual exploitation
are other social and psychological repercussions of forcing children
into sex. Children are robbed of their childhood and the
leisure of formative years. This deprivation leaves scars
that can take years to heal. Children lose trust in others,
particularly adults and become vulnerable to further exploitation.
They also become more liable to grow into exploiters themselves
in turn. They lose self-respect and dignity and can develop
a range of post-traumatic stress symptoms such as depression,
aggression and violence, loss of self-control and self-motivation.
physical effects are apparent as well. Trapped in the cycle
of commercial sexual exploitation, children are faced with physical
abuse – they are beaten, burned, tortured and deprived of food,
air, light and movement. They are also vulnerable to kidney
infections, cervical cancer, early and repeated pregnancies and
sexually transmitted diseases. Numerous studies have also shown
high levels of substance abuse by children involved in prostitution.
Drugs are often used to ensure that children taken into prostitution
remain submissive. Drugs are also a means of self-medication to
numb the pains of anger or despair (CWSK, 1989).
low status of girls and women is both a cause and consequence
of commercial sexual exploitation. Lack of access to education
prevents the acquisition of adequate knowledge or skills for productive
employment. Sexual exploitation renders women vulnerable
to men and curtails educational advancement subjecting them to
poverty and low social economic status. A growing number
of sexually exploited children are another feature of commercial
sexual exploitation in the region. As the only means of
earning an income many families are sending girls into commercial
sex work in order to survive.
increasing number of orphans and child headed households, where
children must be wage earners, is another consequence of commercial
sexual exploitation. HIV/AIDS leads to deaths of many household
breadwinners leading to the disintegration of family structures
and the rise of a new phenomenon of child headed households.
Unable to live on their own, many members of such families run
away to search for jobs, most of who end up as child prostitutes
in urban areas.
Rights Watch (2001) found that in South Africa, sexual violence
has profoundly destabilizing effect on the education of girl children.
Rape survivors interviewed reported that their school performance
suffered and all the girls reported that they were facing difficulties
in concentrating on their work after the assaults. Some
girls reported losing interest in school. Others transferred
to new schools while others dropped out of school completely.
Parents informed Human Rights Watch that their abused children
became depressed, disruptive and anxious.
all the countries in the region committed themselves to developing
national plans of action against the commercial sexual exploitation
of children prior to the end of the year 2000. However this target
has not been met because very few countries have developed and
adopted national plans of action specifically on the commercial
sexual exploitation of children. It appears from the literature
that the Stockholm Congress did encourage an increased interest
in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children
in the region. Since 1996, many policies, programs and activities
have been put in place in the areas of protection, prevention,
recovery and reintegration within the region. The NGOs, however,
seem to be taking the leading role in this regard. In most countries
the role of government seems to be minimal and is restricted to
legislation, a role that most governments are yet to handle effectively.
Among the countries that committed themselves to the development
of a national plan of action on CSEC by the end of the year 2000.
of National Plan on CSEC: The plan has not been fully developed
but a National Steering Committee on Sexual Exploitation of Children
has developed a plan that has not been endorsed and therefore
Programs and Activities: A family and children’s bill has
been submitted to parliament for approval and is expected to become
law followed by the establishment of children’s court.
government is using developmental social policy as a tool for
preventing various social problems, including child punishment
and commercial sexual exploitation of children.
government has volunteered to establish child protection units
in selected police actions.
NGOs are working with the National Steering Committee to raise
awareness of the problem of sexual exploitation of children, identify
the gaps in legislation and procedures and carry out research.
Barnen (a local NGO) has also funded the Forum on Street Children
to do educational work with the police and the abused children.
Through the Forum on Street Children’s program, peer education
is taking place to prevent girls from becoming involved in sexual
for Street Children (a local NGO) has been undertaking a series
of public education programs and campaigns aimed at awareness
Declaration and Agenda for Action translated into Amharic.
of laws pertaining to women in addition to establishing a children’s
Among the countries that committed themselves to the development
of national plan of action on CSEC by end of the year 2000.
of National plan on CSEC: Plan was developed in 1997 but has
not been fully adopted.
Programs and Activities: ANPPCAN, member of ECPAT Kenya
coalition has a Children’s Rights Legal Education profile designed
to sensitize adults and children to the issue of child abuse among
ANPPCAN and other NGOs are assisting the government
to legislate in the Children’s Bill for the full implementation
of the CRC, and are lobbying in favor of the bill.
ANPPCAN carries out education work with law enforcement
authorities on the CRC and child sexual abuse.
ANPPCAN provides legal aid to the child victims of sexual
abuse, psychosocial counseling for victims and also runs a Reporting
Desk for child abuse cases.
ANPPCAN has involved children in the production of drama
on child sexual abuse, which has been staged in a number of venues
as an awareness-raising tool about the issue.
Kenyan Government has established the Children’s Department within
the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Heritage, which, has
statutory responsibility to provide for protection and discipline
of Children (under 14-16 years).
A crisis desk has been created within the Ministry of Home
Affairs to deal with complaints and cases concerning Child Abuse
and neglect as well as commercial sex.
A National Coalition on Child Rights and Child Protection
has been established under the Children’s Department, which comprises
a coalition of Government and NGOs to harmonize various ongoing
activities addressing child victims.
In Kenya, the Children’s Bill has been put before
parliament and is pending enactment. NGOs are lobbying hard
for children’s issues to be addressed in the ongoing constitutional
Awareness-raising campaigns on Children’s Rights
and CSEC have taken place in Kenya.
Strong regional co-operation between Child Rights
NGOs in Kenya and other Child Rights groups outside the Country
have been established. These are supported and monitored
by children’s organizations but run by children themselves.
Members are drawn from secondary and non-formal schools and they
are educated on the responsibilities of children and other social
The Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK) has set up rehabilitation
centers for CSEC victims. Undugu Society rehabilitates street
Various magazines publish articles from children that are
produced monthly or yearly. Young people share their experiences
in these articles. Special radio programs have also been
established as a way of advocating and raising awareness on Child
The African Network for Prevention and Protection
Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) Regional Headquarters
Newsletter ‘ Child Watch’ is widely distributed.
Not among countries that made commitment to have the plan in place
before the year 2000.
of National Plan: Steering Committee on CSEC has drafted a
plan that has not been adopted.
Programs and Activities:
In September 1998, a policy on street children was effected
and street children's desk opened in the Ministry of Gender, Labor
and Social Development.
Needs assessment of children in war areas undertaken.
The concerned ministry is carrying out a campaign to train
trainers in all districts on the implementation of child statute.
This has been supported by UNICEF. The Children’s Statute has
been translated into four languages.
The Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, in
collaboration with the Uganda Police, are carrying out investigations
into the allegations of drug abuse, lesbianism and homosexuality
Uganda Police Force established the Family Protection Unit
within the force to handle cases of violence against children.
The information Council for children is in the process
of setting up a databank on child abuse and exploitation.
UNICEF and BICE facilitated a Slum Aid project which organized
a national workshop to draw up a work plan on child sexual abuse
and exploitation in Uganda. This involved government ministries
concerned with children and focused NGOs.
NGOS have continued with their work on child welfare and
protection through advocacy, implementation of the child statute
and awareness raising. These NGOs include ANPPCAN, Radda Barnen,
World Vision, UCRNN and GLAD.
Rehabilitation programs for sexually abused and exploited
children by NGOS such as SAP and HAR. SAP is training girls
in one of the slums in Kampala in activities such as hair dressing,
HIV/AIDS sensitization, training in life skills and counseling.
World Vision, The Gulu Save the Children Organization (GUSCO)
and UNICEF provide materials and meet the psychological and social
needs of children in war situations.
Legal Aid-FIDA and the Legal Aid Clinic (LAC) provide legal
representation to children. FIDA looks at issues of the sexually
abused child while LAC provides juvenile justice to children of
petty offences and those charged with sexual offences.
The penal code was amended to include additional sexual
offences and punishment in order to safeguard children from sexual
abuse and exploitation.
Uganda’s Law Reform Commission has also drafted a new Sexual
Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year
of National Plan: No plan has been developed yet. However
a local NGO has written a proposal for a National Plan against
the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children:
Programs and Activities:
government undertook research into child abuse and violence against
children, funded by UNICEF. The results of the research
are meant to develop policies and strategies to address the issue.
raising campaigns with tourism organizations are being developed
by UNICEF in co-operation with government departments.
national committee on child abuse and violence was formed in 1997.
The committee was meant to work with UNICEF to develop a plan
of action to protect children.
The Ministry of Tourism in Madagascar has developed television
advertisements on child protection.
Laws against child prostitution came into effect in 1998.
1999 a new law on child pornography was passed.
Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year
of National Plan: A plan has not been fully developed. The
Ministry of Women and Coordination of Social Welfare, with the
support of NGOs, is currently drawing up an Agenda for Action
for Mozambican Children The idea behind the Agenda is that the
government and civil society will develop the contents of the
Agenda through a participatory process. It is expected that all
aspects of CSEC will be incorporated into the plan.
Programs and Activities: NGOs have promoted debate with the
government and local and international NGOs on the issue of commercial
sexual exploitation of children with more severe penalties being
sought for sexual offences.
Legal assistance and psychological counseling has been
provided to child sex abuse victims.
Drama has been used as an advocacy tool and to raise awareness
NGOs have lobbied government, in particular the Ministry
of Social Action for improvement in legislation.
An NGO, Kulima, has been promoting peer education on sexual
abuse by involving children in debates to share their experiences
and to discuss strategies on how problems might be overcome.
A study was undertaken by ADPP, an NGO working with child
prostitutes along the Beira Corridor (Sofala Province) to document
the magnitude of the child prostitution problem and its related
A youth club called ‘Jorem Pera Jover’ was formed to provide
base assistance and advice to young people with problems.
Law reforms are being proposed in Mozambique and recently
legal changes were made concerning children in nightclubs.
Comfort girls: in Mozambique, which is emerging from civil
war, many girls who were used as ‘comfort women’ are being given
help to re-enter society. A combination of western style
counseling and traditional healing methods are favored. This
‘rebirth rituals’ vary from sprinkling water on the person to
elaborate all-night ceremonies involving the whole village and
Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year
on National Plan: No plan on CSEC exists. The government has
however adopted a National Child Protection Policy. The policy
is being implemented through a multi- disciplinary agency for
monitoring the implementation of all child protection activities
in the country.
Programs and Activities:
The penal code and the Children’s Act have been amended
with increased penalties for child sexual abuse.
A help line for children is being operated by social services
for child survivors of sexual abuse.
Public education is being conducted through the media.
Education on child sexual abuse is being integrated into the schools
Reports indicate that laws were amended in order to increase
the penalties for people who sexually exploit children and to
ensure protection of children from sexual exploitation.
Commitment to have national plan on CSEC in place by the end of
the year 2000.
of National Plan: Plan on CSEC was developed in 1997 and has
since been adopted. It is very comprehensive and covers all of
the major areas of the Stockholm Agenda for Action i.e. coordination,
corporation, prevention, protection, recovery and reintegration.
Programs and Activities:
The Children’s Care Amendment Act 1996 and Regulations
came into force on 1st April 1998.
The Department of Welfare operates a national toll-free
telephone help line for children with 24 hours professional service
in the field of sexual exploitation.
Welfare Department of all nine provinces has participated
in the development of a child abuse protocol. The protocol
deals with the issue of how to work with children who have suffered
sexual and other abuse.
The South African police have specially trained child protection
units in the cities B RPCAN and other NGOs provide services to
street children and victims of sexual abuse with whom the police
come in contract.
Many awareness raising and information campaigns have been
carried out. In 1999, a seminar, Advocacy Against
Child Prostitution was organized.
The Legislature has amended the Employment of Educators
Act to require dismissal of teachers found guilty of serious misconduct
including sexual assault of students. South Africa has yet
to implement a national policy on how to deal with the problems
of sexual violence and harassment in schools.
The Western Cape Province is working to introduce guidelines
on gender violence in schools.
There are teacher union rules and legislation prohibiting
sexual relations between teachers and students.
Commitment to have a national plan on CSEC in place by the end
of the year 2000.
of National plan: Information available shows that there is
no plan on CSEC in place. Information available mainly comes
from Zanzibar, a small Island off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar
has developed an action plan. The plan includes research
into child sexual abuse and children in need of special protection
and establishing of adolescent center within the Ministry.
It also includes reviews of legislation and proposals for reform
where necessary. A policy for the survival, protection and
development of children has been developed.
Programs and Activities:
raising on the issue of sexual exploitation of children is being
carried out in schools with policy makers and in the media.
on children’s rights is part of the Ministry’s implementation
of its programs.
formulated a policy on child rights.
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs recently declared
the establishment of Human Right and Child Rights Commission.
The Law Reform Commission is continuing research on child
Several NGOs offer basic necessities to unprivileged children
such as street children and child orphans. All the activities
are meant to provide girl children with shelter, protection, care,
education and empowerment to save them from sexual abuse and exploitation.
The Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) provides
legal assistance to women and children and educates them on their
rights. It promotes research on the development of law particularly
to address the existing gender inequalities.
Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year
of National Plan: Elaborate plan not in place. However National
Reference Group on Child Abuse (NRGCA) was established by the
Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development following the Stockholm
Congress. NRGCA came up with four plans that have been consolidated
into a National Plan. This plan addresses issues of children in
general but not specifically CSEC.
Programs and Activities:
UNICEF has supported drop-in centers for street
children and care projects for orphaned children as well as awareness
raising campaigns on children’s rights.
UNICEF supports the training in child protection
for the Victim Support Unit of the police force and in counseling
of abused children in government departments and NGOs.
A local NGO (Mapode) is involved in awareness raising
campaigns and advocacy work is being carried out. Mapode also
provides skills training for young people at risk and rehabilitation
programs for young girls involved in the sex trade.
Social workers help children move off the streets.
They teach them skills despite lack of resources.
Free education and jobs are given to prevent children
from returning to the streets. YWCA in Zambia holds education
workshops in shanty towns to discourage exploitation of children
Committed itself to the development of a National Plan
of National Plan: Developed but not adopted.
Programs and Activities:
With support of UNICEF, the Department of Social
Welfare has carried out a study on community response to child
abuse and exploitation in Mashonaland East Province of the Country
Through the Department of Social Welfare, the government
is involved in awareness creation about sexual abuse and exploitation
of children throughout the region.
Department of Welfare, together with Child Welfare
Forum also train adults and children to recognize the issue of
sexual exploitation of children.
Government forged links with UNICEF, NGOs and other
agencies in areas of research, training, technical co-operation
and other forms of support for child protection.
There is a National Consortium for the management
of child sexual abuse in Zimbabwe supported by Redd Barna , Zimbabwe.
UNICEF provided technical assistance to the multi-sectoral
initiative on child sexual exploitation in Zimbabwe.
A schools and country information program has been
developed which aims at increasing country and children’s
awareness on child exploitation.
Victim friendly courts have been established and
this has led to child friendly legal facilities and linkages in
police stations, hospitals, social welfare, the family, community
and prosecutor’s office.
Committed itself to the development of a National Plan.
of National Plan: There is no National plan on CSEC.
Programs and Activities:
In 1999, a multi media campaign on abuse of women
and children was carried out. UNICEF disseminated a Child
Abuse Awareness package to schools throughout the country.
Women and child protection units are also involved in public education
There are laws on child prostitution in Namibia
but there is a need for improvement as the laws only apply to
There are drafts of a new Child-Care and Protection
Bill and a Rape Policy, which have not been introduced in Parliament.
Policing of commercial sex of children is non-existent.
Commitment to have a National Plan on CSEC in place by the end
of the year 2000.
of National Plan: Has recently written a general plan on the
implementation of children’s rights that was implemented in 1995.However
it is not clear whether the plan contains specific clauses on
Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Programs and Activities:
Section 125 of the labor code provides restrictions
on the employment of young persons.
The proclamation No. 14 of 1949 on women and girls
protection imposes penalties for threats, travel and drugs, procurement
or attempting to procure any women and girls to have unlawful
carnal knowledge. There is no specific law on child pornography
in the country.
Committed to have in place a national plan on CSEC by the
end of the year 2000.
of National Plan: Plan on CSEC was developed in 1998. Major
steps have been made in implementation of the plan. The plan calls
for action in the following areas: data collection, sensitization,
education and information support to children, counseling services,
protection, prevention and rehabilitation.
Programs and Activities:
Legal amendments were made in 1998 to provide more
severe penalties in cases of child prostitution and abuse.
A study on juvenile justice has been conducted.
Sensitization campaigns have been carried out by
both the government and NGOs that have included talks with students
on unsafe sex and child prostitution and the distribution of posters
Free legal assistance and psychological counseling
is provided to child victims.
The introduction of foster care is being studied
in order to provide child victims with proper environment for
rehabilitation and integration.
Committed to have in place a National Plan on CSEC by the end
of the year 2000.
of National Plan: Has plan on CSEC that was adopted in 1998.
The plan requires actions to be taken in the fields of prevention,
protection and rehabilitation.
is evidently no shortage of general policies at the national levels
to tackle the problem of sexual exploitation of children in the
region. Most governments support measures to protect children
as shown by the ratification of the Convention of the Rights of
the Child and the adoption of the Declaration at the World Congress
against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. The challenge
that most countries face is how to translate this commitment into
constraints experienced by most countries include the following:
Practices that Condone Sexual Abuse of Children
has not been easy to effect positive change in most communities
where cultural practices condone the sexual exploitation of children.
In some communities the definition of a child does not necessarily
agree with the legal provisions. Due to the fact that sex is taboo,
many cases of sexual abuse of children go unreported for fear
difficulties that are currently being experienced in most parts
of the region are making it increasingly difficult for governments
to allocate enough financial resources for the fight against sexual
exploitation of children.
poverty increases, so do the victims of commercial sexual exploitation
who can not easily be rehabilitated. This has been worsened by
the spread of HIV/AIDS.
of Data and Information on which to base Interventions
there is no concrete research on the subject in the region, government
agencies and other actors can not address the problem of CSEC
adequately. This can be seen clearly, for example in the lack
of clear information regarding the boy-child. This has meant that
the boy-child has not been targeted in most intervention efforts.
National investment in research to understand the magnitude of
the problem, causes and intervention patterns and outcomes is
of a Clear Definition of the Problem
is inconsistent and more often confusing use of phrases related
to sexual exploitation of children. This is a major problem that
has hindered efforts to establish a broader knowledge base, which
could inform and direct efforts and policies.
of Trained Personnel
staff in government as well as in NGOs are not well trained on
how to handle cases of sexual exploitation of children. Such agencies
therefore lack capacity and expertise to fight the practices.
These may include legislators, law enforcement officers, members
of the judiciary, social workers, health professionals and teachers.
This has meant that most social services are not child-friendly.
The capacity of some agencies/programmes is over-stretched by
the increasing number of sexually exploited children.
Spread of HIV/AIDS
increasing spread of HIV/AIDS in the region is a challenge to
efforts to fight CSEC. Many vulnerable families and children are
being generated every day by deaths from AIDS. Government and
NGOs can no longer cope with the need to fight the disease and
at the same time deal with CSEC, which is among the myriad of
problems related to the disease.
of Awareness of Children’s Rights
is a general lack of awareness in the general population about
the rights of children. High levels of illiteracy among
females coupled with their low status have limited their level
of exposure. Most women and young females lack awareness of their
of Proper Legislation and Poor Enforcement of the Law
most countries proper legislation has not been put in place to
fight CSEC. Enforcement of the law related to sexual abuse of
children is also very weak. In some instances those meant to enforce
the law end up conspiring with the exploiters or being exploiters
themselves. There is also laxity in the detection and reporting
of offences in the process of implementation of laws. Cases of
child abuse are sometimes treated as domestic matters by some
law enforcement agencies. Laws related to children are also very
of Proper Coordination
is lack of a fully coordinated approach, internally and inter-sectoral,
to child protection tasks, which are also under-resourced. Program
dealing with CSEC are uncoordinated and inadequate. There are
no clear and generally applicable procedures for reporting, no
coordinated provision for management and the follow-up of reports.
sexual exploitation of children in this region is on the rise.
Whereas available information on the practice remains haphazard
and anecdotal, it is clear that the non-commercial aspects of
sexual exploitation are more pervasive than the CSEC. Indeed CSEC
in this region can only be analyzed and understood in the context
of the broader concept of child abuse and exploitation which is
rampant in the region and condoned by some cultural values and
and lack of education are the main influences predisposing children
to commercial exploitation. Other contributing factors are child
sexual abuse and broken families, the spread of HIV/AIDS and cultural
practices that condone abuse of children. Whereas most countries
in the region have taken steps to fight this practice, there is
still a lot to be done. There is evidently lack of political will
in most countries to tackle the problem. Most governments have
not taken a leading role, shifting the burden to NGOS.
is the main conclusion of this report that in order to overcome
obstacles to the implementation of the Stockholm agenda for Action
on CSEC in this region, greater coordination is required amongst
and between no-governmental organizations and government agencies.
There is also need for political will because the most fundamental
change will have to come from governments who must serve as catalysts
for change. Communities and children themselves must be involved
in the fight against the practice.
is need to interpret broadly the “in kind” element of commercial
sexual exploitation to include a variety of cultural contexts.
The monetary element in relation to sexual exploitation of
children is not strong in this region.
children in this region exist within a cultural context, work
with children, families and communities needs to take into
account the social and cultural settings and experiences.
Interventions must therefore be culturally sensitive and appropriate.
and prevention must be seen as part of a community’s responsibility.
To be effective and sustainable, communities need to be aware
of the threats to children and assume child focused and supportive
systems of monitoring and reporting. Thus communities can
no longer rely on outsiders (government and NGOs) to offer
long term protection.
There is a need to develop alternative means
of livelihoods for child victims and their families to prevent
further commercial sexual exploitation. Strategies in income
generation and informal education should be designed to provide
choices for children and their families, to whom the sex trade
may be the only option. For children who are excluded from
mainstream education, their future prospects and choices are
severely limited and this downward spiral of opportunity diminution
creates greater risk of being sexually exploited.
Increased access to basic education is needed,
particularly with regard to the plight of the girl-child and
the inferior status assigned to women and children in many
communities in the region.
is a need for strengthening of public information campaigns
to target the demand side, the sex exploiters. Agencies need
to work consistently with the mass media, look at program
for increasing sensitivity in reporting, and create the opportunity
for changing public awareness and sensitivity on this issue.
There is a need for training of personnel
working with children in difficult circumstances including
victims of sexual abuse and exploitation in respective countries
on how to handle cases. All relevant social sectors should
also be trained about the existence, scope and harmful physical
and psychological impact of sexual exploitation on children.
More research and information gathering is
required on sexual exploitation of children in the region.
This will go a long way in providing adequate information
on which meaningful intervention efforts can be based.
measures need to be taken in the area of law enforcement.
Proper legislation needs to be put in place. Law enforcement
officials also need to be educated on how to clamp down on
the culture of impunity surrounding the sexual exploitation
of children. This will also go along way in developing non-punitive
strategies of dealing with victims.
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Sexual Exploitation of Children.
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Prevention and Intervention Strategies with Sexually Abused and
Exploited Children. Report of a Regional Workshop held at
the Colline Hotel, Mukono, Uganda 20th-22nd
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the Law against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
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and Beyond: An Assessment of the NPA and the Way Forward: Pretoria,
V. (1996) Report on the Workshop on ALegal Protection from Child
Prostitution. Pretoria 26-27 March 1996.
WORLD VISION UGANDA:
Identifying and working with child minors
situation of armed conflict in northern Uganda, which has been
on-going for the last 10 years, is horrific. The strategy
used by LRA (the Lords Resistance Army) involves abducting children
both to increase the rebel numbers and to intimidate the general
population. Between 1995 -1998 it was established that between
5,000 and 8,000 children had been forcefully abducted from their
homes – the children included boys and girls as young as 5 years
addition to the many abuses inflicted upon these children, girls
are raped and abused. They are allocated to soldiers as
“wives”. For many years this appalling abuse/violation has
continued, although some have managed to escape and official Ugandan
forces, during offensives against the rebels, have rescued others.
The impact of these experiences on children is severe in terms
of physical infancy, psychological infancy, social displacement
and economic depletion. Some girls become pregnant or have
already given birth, children have low esteem and feel very insecure
and fearful of re-abduction and are withdrawn. Many children
have nightmares and/or hallucinations and many are angry about
their loss of childhood, lost opportunities and at the adult world’s
failure to protect them. As a result, some children become
very aggressive. The communities to which these children
return may feel negatively about the children, perceiving them
as evil whilst they were rebels and therefore dangerous.
who relied on their families, without any outside help to address
these profound consequences, clearly found it hard to adjust.
Families often felt unable to understand the child fully and were
unable to give the required help. World Vision Uganda established
a project after undertaking a survey in 1995, which established
the extent of the problem. It was designed as a rehabilitation
center where the process of recovery in a safe environment could
services offered by the project included accommodation, basic
health care and food. However, it was realized that the children’s
psychological needs had to be addressed with limited resources.
Training of trauma counselors to provide a core group of skilled
people was undertaken initially with the aim of them building
capacity through training other community based counselors who
could continue the work in the communities. Counseling is also
provided in the center. The counselors are there to listen
to the children, to see them as abused and victimized children,
not as rebels. Group work allows children to share experiences.
They are given space to be children again with opportunities for
rehabilitation and training. Families are contacted and
reintroduced to the children. Work is done to sensitize families
and communities about the children’s experiences. Most of
the children recover sufficiently to return home within three
to six weeks of their arrival at the centers. Although some children
no longer have any surviving members of their immediate families,
it has been possible to place children with other relatives or
neighbors. There are real and ongoing threats to the recovery
of these children. The greatest is the continuation of war,
which raises the constant threat of abduction or involvement in
violence and deprives these children of the feeling of safety
and security, which they need. Although this may be only the start
of a much longer process of recovery for the children, the project
has shown a clear sign of having a positive impact.
CENTER- NAIROBI, KENYA- Counseling Approaches in
counseling center has been in operation for 10 years; one focus
of its work has been helping people who are working with children
to provide better, more appropriate services. They are also
involved in counseling training and awareness raising and working
with the radio. Oasis offers services to children who have
been sexually abused. It has trained 500 lay counselors.
They undertake preventive work through strengthening the family.
They try to build networks with the need of partnership and co-operation.
key to success in all aspects of Oasis’s work is felt to be acceptance,
love, a non-judgmental approach, trust, creating hope, believing
changes are possible and patience. They employ a holistic
approach, looking at ‘the whole person’ including the spiritual
needs, which may involve working with other groups to meet all
the children’s needs.
their work with sexually abused children, OASIS has based their
strategy on findings of a survey of adult survivors which found
that 74% reported that the abuses caused severe damage to their
lives, with the vast majority (83%) perceiving the psychological
and social damage as greater than physical consequences.
The task of counseling work with victims of sexual abuse includes:
Helping the child see themselves as worthy - to
try to create hope.
Re-establishing parental responsibilities for caring
and supporting the child.
Establishing other support systems around the child.
For the child involved in prostitution, giving a
safe haven where they can find ways of learning other ways of
Working with families, using actual handouts to
prepare them for their roles in society.
FORUM FOR STREET
CHILDREN, ETHIOPIA - Child Participation
Forum for Street Children in Ethiopia has explored the child-to-child
approaches in dealing with sexually exploited children. This is
in recognition of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which
offers complementary views of children:
Being in need of special protection and
With the right to a greater voice to be protagonists
in their own protection.
means that children may need to be helped to participate fully.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child reiterates the right
to be listened to, but gives little direction about how to achieve
this. The issue of participation is considered important because
it is seen as part of the process of creating a society in which
all citizens participate at all level and in areas that are appropriate
for the age and maximum capacity of the child. The underlying
basis of the child-to-child approach is the role and responsibility
of children in learning and transmitting messages to other children.
This is implemented through a series of steps:
Choosing the right idea and understanding it well.
The activity must be important and within children’s ability and
fun. The children must be part of identifying the right
idea. The best age and gender mix of groups needs to be
The role of children in finding out more about themselves,
their families and countries needs to be addressed.
Discussing what has been found out, planning action,
Taking action - this may be based on individual
or group approaches using different media ideas.
the result in terms of immediate impact (positive or negative)
and looking at ways to continue the activities, modifying the
approach based on perceived responses and results. The paramount
importance of being able to listen to children is raised.
the context of Ethiopia, where the major concern is the sexual
exploitation of street children, programs have been street-based
to make that first contact. Once the contact is made and
established, the children are then trained as health educators.
The Forum for Street Children project has, for example, involved
training 40 street children on HIV/AIDS using a puppet show with
child-to-child methods. The objective has been to disseminate
information to other children who are not reachable by many other
programs. The approach has been used to disseminate information
about the Convention on the Rights of the child to facilitate
approach has created a new understanding of the way that children
can be involved in project activities. The need to be involved
from the start of the process and involved in a way that can have
a real impact.
SCF- UGANDA: Working
With Children Affected by HIV/AIDS
affects children in many ways. They may be infected by the
HIV virus or may have developed AIDS. Sexual abuse is a
major cause of HIV/AIDS infection. Frequently children are also
involved in looking after sick relatives who may sexually abuse
and infect them.
(UK) Uganda realized that workers in pediatric clinics dealing
with the mothers of sick children had little experience of addressing
the complex needs of children suffering from HIV/AIDS. The
children needed more than medical interventions. They needed
to talk to someone to understand more about what was happening
to them and to understand their own feelings and responses.
Sexual abuse was a significant factor in the infection of some
of these children and the clinicians themselves were uncertain
about how to deal with either this information or with emotional
consequences for the children and their families.
knowledge and awareness led to the development of training materials
to provide core skills in communication. The objective was
to try and change the perceptions of some health professionals
regarding children’s needs, encouraging them to recognize their
patients as children who needed to play and sing and make noise,
once they were well enough. They were encouraged to help
people to talk about the issue, having overcome many of the factors
surrounding any discussion of sexual behavior.
working with sexually abused children many approaches are adopted,
but there is little assessment of their relative impact in relation
to the stated objectives of the program. Within Ethiopia, Forum
for Street Children has been at the top of the movement to develop
indicators to provide a means of evaluating the difference a project
or activity has had.
process started with a consultation exercise with project managers
from a number of different projects. They tried to identify
the areas to be assessed, defining objectives to be achieved,
and looking at indicators of achievements. The aim was to
produce a system that would be widely applicable and endorsed
and often a method of assessing impact.
developed an initial system through this consultation exercise,
the proposal was taken back to each project to discuss implementation
with the grass roots workers and with the beneficiaries. As a
result the process has taken a reflective step backwards and is
incorporating these options into redeveloping and re-evaluating
the program. It has been recognized that the process of
consultation should be started with the children, families and
communities rather than relying on project managers at the initial
SLUM AID PROJECT
(SAP) - UGANDA: Development of program in response to an
assessment of need and project impact
project was started as a literacy and HIV/AIDS awareness program,
with women and girls living in a Kampala slum. As the understanding
of the population needs within the area changed, the project has
developed to offer services to girls abused through sexual exploitation.
Many of the young girls working in prostitution were missing out
on the mainstream services.
project was based on non-institutional interventions. Children
continue to live within their communities. For most, this is not
with their parents as most of the girls share accommodation. They
needed skills and opportunities to find alternative incomes. Staff
working with the girls needed to reassess their ways of counseling.
To understand the situation, SAP worked with customers trying
to raise the awareness of the girls and to get across the health
message that would at least protect the girls to some extent.
worked with community leaders to change some of the negative images
of the girls. The project staff are based in the communities,
working with leaders to identify specific country needs and try
to ensure their programs are responsive to these needs.
Study On Solwodi -
Giving Girls A Second Chance
This case study
will also be included as part of a video production (although
the video will not be available in time for the Rabat meeting).
is a well-known neighbourhood in Mombasa, Kenya’s major port on
the Indian Ocean. Local commuter taxis, trucks and cars crowd
the main streets. Schools, bars, a restaurant, shops, a health
clinic and a petrol station are tucked between residential blocks.
Kiosks selling fruits, vegetables and second-hand clothes are
black-and-white signpost that hangs outside the building housing
SOLWODI is easy to miss. The few who know the place refer to it
as nyumba ya malaya (the house of prostitutes). SOLWODI, however,
stands for Solidarity with Women in Distress, an NGO started in
1985 by a Roman Catholic nun who wanted to give women, and especially
young girls involved in prostitution, an alternative life.
economic conditions have left families across Kenya struggling
to pay for school fees and even the most basic necessities. HIV/AIDS
has further weakened family structures – a report published in
2000 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
puts the number of orphans left to fend for themselves at 730,000
in 1999. Finally, a culture that has always treated women as second-class
citizens is fuelling the sexual exploitation of girls. Today,
there are even fewer alternatives for survival.
A runaway is lured
into sex work
left school last year at 16, taking the first train to Mombasa,
some 800 kilometres from her Nakuru home. The town has a thriving
commercial sex industry that attracts customers from around the
country and beyond. An orphan, Caroline was eager to leave cruel
relatives. A young woman spotted Caroline as she got off the train
and invited her home. Caroline, who didn’t know anybody at the
seaside city, went with her.
soon found herself being ‘trained’ in sex work in some of the
city’s well-known clubs. “We worked in groups, with an older girl
negotiating with clients,” says Caroline. “Men would ask our ages
and the younger the better. I would then go with the man to a
lodging where we would have sex. I paid a commission to the group
leader for every client. Some of the men would beat me, especially
when I refused to take drugs or I insisted on using a condom.”
In one such incident, the man insisted they both smoke bhang before
going to bed. Caroline refused. He beat her, tore her clothes
off and put them in water. She walked home dripping wet.
older girl told Caroline about SOLWODI and she started attending
the regular Monday afternoon meetings. Caroline is now waiting
to train as a hairdresser. She hopes to support herself as well
as pay for schooling for her two younger sisters. “Now I know
I was being exploited for my body,” says Caroline. “Even though
the men picked me because I was young, some would use this as
an excuse not to pay. They would argue I was a child anyway and
not supposed to be in commercial sex work, so why should they
believes SOLWODI saved her life. “Now there is a life for me,”
she says. “They have the courage to speak out against the exploitation
of young girls and to support those like me.” Caroline hopes to
help other girls quit.
Reaching out to
is staffed by a manager, Lorna Rupia, and four social workers.
Fifteen trained peer educators reach out to commercial sex workers
in nightclubs, beach hotels and the streets, educating them about
the alternative life and support that SOLWODI can provide. The
police, the probation office and other NGOs also refer girls to
majority of SOLWODI clients are high-risk teenage girls whom peer
educators or neighbours have identified as “just about to enter”
or “in the early stages” of commercial sex work. These 15- to
20-year-old young women are often school drop-outs from poor families
and get into commercial sex work through ‘boyfriends’ who pay
them for sex. Many of the girls have dropped out of school because
they can’t pay their school fees, and they become involved in
commercial sexual exploitation because they need money to buy
clothes or food, supplement family income or escape forced early
a girl comes in contact with SOLWODI, the NGO does not demand
that she immediately stop commercial sex work. “We cannot provide
them with an instant alternative, and they tell us openly that
they will not stop unless they get another source of income,”
says Ms. Rupia.
SOLWODI, girls meet other girls whose lives have changed. “We
only work with girls who make a choice to leave commercial sex
work,” says social worker Fridah Mwadime. “We help these girls
make this choice through education and counselling – many of the
girls do not realize they are being exploited. A majority do not
like what they have to do but they feel they have no choice.”
girls register with SOLWODI, the social workers help them begin
their new life. Through individual and group counselling, home
visits and regular education around issues such as HIV/AIDS, drug
abuse, women’s rights and how to fight for those rights, the girls
begin to understand the exploitative nature of commercial sex
work. “The girls should have adequate negotiating skills and be
able to make better choices,” says Ms. Rupia. “They understand
that sex without a condom means getting infected, possibly with
training is given to those aged 25 years and younger. The girls
learn tie-dyeing, baking, tailoring and hairdressing. “When a
girl identifies the skill she would like to specialize in, we
help in identifying the schools,” says Ms. Mwadime. “These should
be institutions that will support the girl’s decision to stop
commercial sex work. The courses are usually six months to one
year long, and can cost up to Ksh 15,000” (US $192). SOLWODI pays
for the courses. The student and her guardian sign an agreement
to repay this amount according to mutually agreed terms, but,
says Ms. Rupia, allowances are made, and given the job market
in Kenya, there is no penalty if the girls cannot repay the fees.
of the girls who come to SOLWODI need significant emotional healing.
"These girls are so withdrawn, submissive and subdued that
they put up with anything in the course of their ‘work’,” says
Ms. Mwadime. “These are young girls to whom anything can be done
by their male clients, but they submit to make money. Some will
have unprotected sex when a client demands it. Others will be
involved in violent group sex. At SOLWODI we try to make them
get out of such submissiveness. We try to instil confidence and
respect in them. These children simply need education and a supportive
dropped out of school at age 15 to take care of her terminally
ill mother, who died last year. Her father sells coffee on the
streets, which pays for a single room that he shares with his
four younger children. Saida and one of her sisters sleep in the
landlady’s house. "I feed the family by cooking and selling
beans in the evenings which local people eat as stew,” says Saida.
“But this is not enough, and sometimes there is not enough to
her mother died, a young man in the neighbourhood had shown interest
in Saida. Although she used to ignore him, when one night the
family went without food, Saida asked him for money. He said he
could give her money as long as she slept with him. “He gives
me 300 to 500 shillings when I sleep with him, and this helps.
But I worry about diseases since I know he is sleeping with other
first heard about SOLWODI at a women’s meeting she had attended.
She is eager to start on her hairdressing course and hopes to
one day put her sisters aged 7, 12 and 13 back in school.
must work together
a declining economy and the absence of any social safety net for
children when parents die, Ms. Rupia fears that the NGO will be
seeing more and more sexual exploitation of children. “We must
work harder to find employment opportunities for the girls or
find resources that will support them in self-employment,” says
Ms. Rupia. “The community and the government must work harder
to keep children out of commercial sex.”
members of the community are doing their part. Many of the local
chiefs and village-level administrators invite SOLWODI to their
public meetings to inform the local communities about their work.
And Ms. Rupia, who previously worked as a probation officer, believes
SOLWODI’s work will be supported by the Children’s Bill, which
attempts to bring national legislation in line with the Convention
on the Rights of the Child. At the time of publication the bill
is in Parliament and is expected to be passed before the end of
2001. Ms. Rupia hopes other organizations that can support the
girls and women, including the police, will take some of the responsibilities
that her organization cannot handle.
June 2001, SOLWODI had registered 85 young girls, but there are
many more who need assistance. “The social workers had to cut
down on street work when we realized that we could not meet the
demand,” says Ms. Rupia. “We do not have the resources, human
or financial. We hope, as we raise more funds and as our clients
are able to repay their loans, we will be able to enlist more
Rose was fortunate to meet SOLWODI when she did. Her mother sells
vegetables to support Rose and two other children. But there is
not enough to buy food for everyone, and some days there is no
food at all. Rose would like things her friends have – nice clothes
and nicely styled hair. So when a friend asked her for sex in
return for money, she agreed. Soon she was taking money from more
than just her ‘boyfriend’. A neighbour noticed that Rose was staying
out late. “She told me she had noticed that I had started bad
habits. She asked me to go to SOLWODI. I am glad to find an organization
like this one. My brief time as a commercial sex worker was far
from happy. I was afraid of getting pregnant or getting AIDS.
The men are also not good. Some do not pay; others are abusive,
while some push you to take drugs. One man suggested that if I
took drugs I would not think that what I was doing was bad or
Rose is looking forward to her embroidery course.
She is also happy that since she stopped going out to bars and
discos, she has a better relationship with her 12-year-old sister.
“I had lost her respect completely,” said Rose. “She believed
I would come home with AIDS. Now it is my turn to tell her that
she should never ever think of selling her body for money.”
DRAFT Consultancy Report Prepared as a component of the UNICEF
– ESARO & ANPPCAN Partnership Project on Sexual Exploitation
and Children’s Rights, October, 2001, Nairobi, Kenya