UN Report: South Africa Becoming International Market for Child Sex Trade
February 19, 2003
A report to the UN Commission on Human Rights says that South Africa has become a market for children sold into prostitution. Children from Angola, Mozambique, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Eastern Europe, Thailand and China are either being lured or kidnapped in South Africa to become street prostitutes in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Angolan, Congolese and Nigerian criminal rings are believed to be responsible, but criminal elements from Bulgaria, Thailand, China and Russia are also said to be involved.Adapted from:
UN officials who visited South Africa last year to investigate the high incidence of abuse, rape and child prostitution compiled the report. The investigators found that hunger, poverty and the legacy of apartheid all impacted on crimes against children. "Hatred has accumulated. Violence has accumulated. The traditional relations of family harmony were seriously damaged by decades of oppression and contempt, and their present manifestations in devious forms are shocking," the report said.
Often, desperate circumstances have led parents to sell their own children into prostitution. "... In many cases the parents actually encourage or force the child to earn money this way," the report said.
Other children, orphaned by AIDS, prostitute themselves in order to survive. About one in nine South Africans is living with HIV/AIDS, and 622,000 children under age 14 have lost one or both parents to the epidemic.
Young girls are especially vulnerable, said the report, and children are sometimes targeted by HIV-positive adults who believe sex with a minor can cure them of the disease. Last year, the South African Human Rights Commission found that almost one-third of the nation's children had been sexually abused. Even so, the UN investigators found there is no adequate framework in the country for children who have been abused or are in need of AIDS treatment.
02.18.03; Elliott Sylvester