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UNICEF in support of:
Second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children


The Vicious Cycle of Sexual Exploitation, HIV/AIDS, Vulnerability of Children and Violations of Children’s Human Rights


     1.1      Introduction

     1.2     The Stockholm Conference


     2.1      Sex Tourism and Sexual Exploitation of Children

     2.2      Child Prostitution

     2.3      Child Pornography

     2.4      Child Trafficking

     2.5      Child Marriages


     3.1      Magnitude of the Problem

     3.2      Linkages between CSEC and HIV/AIDS


     4.1      Introduction



     6.1      ETHIOPIA

     6.2      KENYA

     6.3     UGANDA

     6.4      MADAGASCAR

     6.5      MOZAMBIQUE

     6.6      SEYCHELLES

     6.7      SOUTH AFRICA

     6.8      TANZANIA

     6.9      ZAMBIA

     6.10      ZIMBABWE

     6.11      NAMIBIA

     6.12      LESOTHO

     6.13      MAURITIUS

     6.14      ANGOLA



     8.1      Conclusion

     8.2      Recommendations and the way forward


APPENDIX 1 Good Practices

APPENDIX 2 Case Study On Solwodi - Giving Girls A Second Chance.



African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Children against Child Sexual Abuse and Neglect.


International Catholic Child Bureau


Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children


Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation


Child Welfare Society of Kenya


ECPAT International: End Child Prostitution, Child pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes


Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (UNICEF)


Federation of Women Lawyers.


Friend of Children Organization


Forum for Street Children-Ethiopia


Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development.


Gulu Save the Children Organization.


Hope After Rape


Human Sciences Research Council


International Labor Organization.


International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor


Kenya Demographic and Health Survey


Legal Aid Clinic


Lords Resistance Army


Ministry of Health.


Non Governmental Organization


Slum Aid Project


Ugandan Demographic and Health Survey


Uganda Child Rights NGO Network


United Nations Commission on the Rights of the Child


Structural Adjustment Programs


Tanzania Women Lawyers Association


Young Men’s Christian Association


Zambian Law Development Commission



The 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.

Many 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.

This 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 of Children.


This 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:

1.   To assess all forms of sexual exploitation and focus on the links between non-commercial and commercial sexual exploitation.

2.   Examine all issues related to the sexual exploitation of children and HIV/AIDS.

3.   To highlight regional priorities and initiatives in curbing the practice and make recommendations.


The 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. 


(a) 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.

(b) 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.

Most 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.

(c) 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.

Protection: 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: 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.

Recovery 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.


Successes: 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.

Constraints: 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.


Conclusion: 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.

Recommendations: 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:

·      There 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 participation.

·      There is a need to develop alternative means of livelihoods for victims and their families.

·      Research and information gathering must be improved.

·      There is a need to expand training, build capacity and expertise nationally and regionally.

·      Awareness at the grassroots levels should be intensified.

·      Improve on legislation and enforcement of the law pertaining to sexual exploitation of children.


1.1         Introduction

The 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 34 states:

States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

(a)  The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

(b)  The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

(c)  The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials..

Article 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.

Commercial 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.

Globally, 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.

The 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).

The 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.

The 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.

The 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 net.

Sexual 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.

1.2         The Stockholm Conference

In 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.

The Declaration and Agenda for Action of the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (1996) provided the following general definition of the practice:

 “The 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, 2001).

The 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.

The 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.

The 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?


In 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 Marriam, 1998).

Child 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.

2.1         Sex Tourism and Sexual Exploitation of Children

In 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 sex.

Various reasons have been advanced for the increase in the number of foreign visitors engaging in sexual exploitation of children in this region:

(i)         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.

(ii)        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.

(iii)       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.

(iv)       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.

(v)        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.

(vi)       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.

The 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.

In 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.

2.2         Child Prostitution

Child 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.

Child 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).

An 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).

A 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).

The 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.

Prostitution 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.

Homosexual 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, 1989).

In 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).

The 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.

2.3         Child Pornography

Child 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.

The 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.

Information 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.

Child 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.

Child 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.

2.4         Child Trafficking

Many 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).

In 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).

In the cross-border trafficking of children the main traffickers are foreigners. They are mainly individuals and crime syndicates from Eastern Europe, Mozambique and Thailand.

Trafficking usually takes various forms:

(i) 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 her will.

(ii) 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.

(iii) 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.

(iv) In some countries there is trafficking of children from rural to urban areas to work as domestic helpers for prosperous families.

(v) 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.

2.5         Child Marriages

Child 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.

Civil 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).

In 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).

The 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.

Children 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.

In 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.

In 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).

The 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.

Most 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.


3.1         Magnitude of the Problem

There 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).

One 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.

The 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:

(i) 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.

(ii) 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).

(iii) 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.

Despite 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.

A 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.

Research 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.

In 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.

In 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). 

The 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).

Young 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).

In 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.

According 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).

In 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.

It 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.

3.2         Linkages between CSEC and HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS 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).

It 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).

In 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.

African 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 continues.

Findings 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 (Nyonyintono, 1998).

In 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. (UNICEF, 2001).

In 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.

In 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).

According 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. 

In 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).

In 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.

Current 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 areas.

In 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, 2000).  

In 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, 2000).


4.1         Introduction

Within 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.

There 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 support systems.

(1)             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.

Poverty 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 and exploitation.

Consumerism 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.

Structural 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.

(2)        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.

Generally 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.

(3)             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.

(4)             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.

Weak 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. 

The 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 (Nyonyintono, 1998).

War 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.

(5)             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, 2001).

(6)             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 for education.

There 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).

There 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.

(7)             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.

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.

(8)             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 work.

In 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.

(9)             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.

There 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.

Broken 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.

Drug 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).

In 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.

In 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).

In 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.

(10)             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.


The 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 of children.

There 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.

The 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).

The 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.

The 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.

Human 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.


Nearly 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.

6.1         ETHIOPIA

Commitment: Among the countries that committed themselves to the development of a national plan of action on CSEC by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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 not adopted.

Policies, 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.

·     The government is using developmental social policy as a tool for preventing various social problems, including child punishment and commercial sexual exploitation of children.

·     The government has volunteered to establish child protection units in selected police actions.

·     Some 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.

·        Radda 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 exploitation.

·     Forum for Street Children (a local NGO) has been undertaking a series of public education programs and campaigns aimed at awareness rising.

·     Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for Action translated into Amharic.

·       Reviewing of laws pertaining to women in addition to establishing a children’s court.

6.2         KENYA

Commitment: Among the countries that committed themselves to the development of national plan of action on CSEC by end of the year 2000.

Status of National plan on CSEC: Plan was developed in 1997 but has not been fully adopted.

Policies, 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 other things.

·       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.

·      The 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 review.

·         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 issues.

·       The Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK) has set up rehabilitation centers for CSEC victims.  Undugu Society rehabilitates street children.

·       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 Rights.

·         The African Network for Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) Regional Headquarters Newsletter ‘ Child Watch’ is widely distributed.

6.3         UGANDA

Commitment: Not among countries that made commitment to have the plan in place before the year 2000.

Status of National Plan: Steering Committee on CSEC has drafted a plan that has not been adopted.

Policies, 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 in schools.

·         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 Offences Bill.

6.4         MADAGASCAR

Commitment: Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year 2000

Status 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:

Policies, Programs and Activities:

The 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.

·         Awareness raising campaigns with tourism organizations are being developed by UNICEF in co-operation with government departments.

·        A 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.

·         In 1999 a new law on child pornography was passed.

6.5         MOZAMBIQUE

Commitment: Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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.

Policies, 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 within communities.

·         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 practices. 

·         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 animal sacrifices.

6.6         SEYCHELLES

Commitment: Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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.

Policies, 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 curricular.

·         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.

6.7         SOUTH AFRICA

Commitment: Commitment to have national plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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.

Policies, 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.

6.8         TANZANIA

Commitment: Commitment to have a national plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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.

Policies, Programs and Activities:

·     Awareness raising on the issue of sexual exploitation of children is being carried out in schools with policy makers and in the media.

·     Education on children’s rights is part of the Ministry’s implementation of its programs.

·     Government formulated a policy on child rights.

·     The 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 abuse.

·     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.

6.9            ZAMBIA

Commitment: Commitment to have plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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.

Policies, 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 by adults.

6.10     ZIMBABWE

Commitment: Committed itself to the development of a National Plan

Status of National Plan: Developed but not adopted.

Policies, 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 (August 2000).

·         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.

6.11     NAMIBIA

Commitment:   Committed itself to the development of a National Plan.

Status of National Plan: There is no National plan on CSEC.

Policies, 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 campaigns.

·         There are laws on child prostitution in Namibia but there is a need for improvement as the laws only apply to boys. 

·         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.


6.12     LESOTHO

Commitment: Commitment to have a National Plan on CSEC in place by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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

Policies, 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.

6.13     MAURITIUS

Commitment: Committed to have in place a national plan on CSEC by the end of the year 2000.

Status 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.

Policies, 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 and stickers.

·         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.

6.14     ANGOLA

Commitment: Committed to have in place a National Plan on CSEC by the end of the year 2000.

Status of National Plan: Has plan on CSEC that was adopted in 1998The plan requires actions to be taken in the fields of prevention, protection and rehabilitation.


There 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 action.

The constraints experienced by most countries include the following:

Cultural Practices that Condone Sexual Abuse of Children

It 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 of stigmatization.

Poverty/Economic Difficulties

Economic 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. 

As 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.

Lack of Data and Information on which to base Interventions

Since 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 negligible.

Lack of a Clear Definition of the Problem

There 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.

Lack of Trained Personnel

Most 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.

The Spread of HIV/AIDS

The 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.

Lack of Awareness of Children’s Rights

There 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 rights

Lack of Proper Legislation and Poor Enforcement of the Law

In 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 scattered.

Lack of Proper Coordination

There 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.


8.1         Conclusion

Commercial 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 practices.

Poverty 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.

It 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.

8.2         Recommendations and the way forward

  1. There 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.

  2. Since 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.

  3. Protection 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. There 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. More 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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APPENDIX 1: Good Practices

WORLD VISION UGANDA: Identifying and working with child minors

The 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 of age.

In 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.

Children 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 begin.

The 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.


Oasis 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.

The 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.

In 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 generating income.

·         Working with families, using actual handouts to prepare them for their roles in society.


The 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.

This 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 determined.

·         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, practicing skills.

·         Taking action - this may be based on individual or group approaches using different media ideas.

Discussing 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.

Within 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 increased protection.

This 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

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.

SCF (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.

This 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.

FSCE- ETHIOPIA: Evaluation

In 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.

The 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.

Having 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 stages.

SLUM AID PROJECT (SAP) - UGANDA: Development of program in response to an assessment of need and project impact

The 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.

The 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.

SAP 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.

APPENDIX 2: Case 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).

Ganjoni 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 everywhere.

The 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.   

Worsening 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

Caroline 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.

Caroline 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.

An 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 pay me?”

Caroline 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 girls

SOLWODI 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 SOLWODI.

A 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 marriages.

When 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.

At 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.” 

When 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 HIV/AIDS.”

Vocational 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.

Most 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 environment.”

Saida 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 eat."

Before 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 women."

Saida 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.

The community must work together

With 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.”

Some 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.

In 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 girls.”

Sixteen-year-old 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 wrong.”

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.”

[i] 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