Child Prostitution a Global Problem
April 22, 2002
An estimated one million children around the world are forced into prostitution every year, and the total number of prostituted children could be as high as 10 million, according to a report published in the April 20th issue of the Lancet (2002;359:1417-1421). "Child prostitution, like other forms of child sexual abuse, is not only a cause of death and high morbidity in millions of children, but also a gross violation of their rights and dignity," wrote co-authors Brian M. Willis, of the CDC, and Dr. Barry S. Levy of Tufts University.
Boys as well as girls are being prostituted and, according to the report, some of the children are as young as ten years old. "Most of these children are exploited by local men, although some are also exploited by pedophiles and foreign tourists," the authors wrote. They estimate the number of children exploited by prostitution is highest in India (400,000 to 575,000); Brazil is second (100,000 to 500,000); the United States is third (300,000); and in fourth place are Thailand and China (200,000 each).
Willis and Levy report that, worldwide, millions of children are infected with STDs, have abortions, attempt suicide and are raped each year. They note that in parts of Southeast Asia, 50 percent to 90 percent of children rescued from brothels are infected with HIV.
"A coordinated international campaign is needed to prevent child prostitution, provide services to children who are prostituted until they can be removed from prostitution, and implement effective recovery and reintegration programs," Willis and Levy note. "For [such a] campaign to be successful, it will require global coordination, implementation at national, regional and community levels, and the leadership of many health professionals. The prostitution of children and the related health consequences have been accepted for far too long. The time has come to make them unacceptable."
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.