CSEC stands for the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. Although the sexual exploitation of children is illegal in most countries around the world, research estimates state that over two million children are sexually exploited each year. Of course, this is an approximation, since CSEC is such an underground issue. CSEC encompasses a wide range of forms of exploitation, including child prostitution, child sex trafficking, child pornography, child sex tourism, and that often indirectly involves underage marriage and/or organ harvesting.
Child sex trafficking is when children are transported internationally or within their homelands for the purpose of forced sexual labor. The vast majority of the 1.2 million children trafficked per year are girls; in West and Central Africa, nearly 90% of trafficked domestic workers are girls. These girls are at an incredibly high risk of sexual abuse. Young women are also often trapped in arranged marriages: over 60 million women aged 20-24 were married or in unions before they were legal adults. Of course, these facts only represent parts of the vast spectrum of the sexual exploitation of youth.
One million children are sexually exploited in Asia alone. In Thailand, 60-70% of child prostitutes are HIV positive. In Guatemala, up to 80% of the prostitution population is children. But the commercial sexual exploitation of children is not a distant epidemic: child prostitution is also an enormous problem in the United States: it’s estimated that at least 100,000 youth are at-risk for entering the child sex trade in the United States each year. The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is just 13. ECPAT reports that nearly one quarter of all sex tourists outside the United States are Americans. Sometimes travel agencies even organize tours for clients wishing to arrange "sex tours," or trips designed specifically to enable travelers to have sex with children.
Our generation has the power to help end the exploitation. By learning about CSEC and fighting it, we can prevent our generation from fostering CSEC in the future.
Because children are especially vulnerable, law enforcement must focus on protecting their rights. People have come together from all around the world to create “The Convention of the Rights of the Child” (CRC) which outlines the basic rights of children. The CRC consists of 54 articles as well as two Optional Protocols. Some rights that are laid out in the Convention include those that improve healthcare, education, legal services, etc. The Optional Protocols address some of the worst forms of exploitation that children are subject to such as child pornography and child prostitution.* For more information on child rights and on the CRC go to http://www.unicef.org/crc/