Carib Key Advocacy

Live To Serve, Love to Serve!

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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 objet. The commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence, against children, and amounts to a contemporary form of slavery."

The primary forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children include prostitution of children, child-pornography, trafficking of children for sexual purpose and child-sex tourism. Other forms include child marriage and domestic servitude.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children exists because there is a demand for it. Deterrence and criminal punishments are important, but any efforts to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children must also recognize the need to challenge, and condemn behaviors, beliefs and attitudes that support and sustain this demand.


It is important to note that not only girls, but also large numbers of boys are exploited in commercial sex.


*In El Salvador, a third of sexually exploited children between 14 and 17 years of age are boys.  The median age for entering into prostitution among all children interviewed was 13 years.


Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse of a child can be defined as contacts or interactions between a child and an older or more knowledgeable child or adult, such as a stranger, sibling or parent, when the child is being used as an object of gratification for the abuser's sexual needs, these actions are carried out using force, threats, bribes, trickery or pressure. Sexually abusive activities do not necessarily involve bodily contact between abuser and child. Abusive activities could include exhibitionism or voyeurism, such as an adult watching children undressing or encouraging or forcing children to engage in sexual activities with one another, while the abuser observes or films such activities. Abusers are often people who have a responsibility in some capacity for the child's safety and well-being, thus a relationship of trust has been developed at the same time of one of power.

A more recent phenomenon is Internet 'grooming,' whereby an adult deliberately sets out using Internet chat-rooms or social networking websites to prepare or groom a child for a subsequent physical or virtual meeting with the intention (or result) of sexually abusing the child. The Internet has also made organized child sex abuse more widespread, providing opportunities for individuals to form networks for the purpose of exchanging child abuse images and to gain access to victims.  Reason to be cautious on social networking sites!


Several cases have highlighted how new technologies may be used to compound harm. In India, a teenage boy used his phone-camera to film sexual activity with his then girlfriend and sent the images to his friends via mobile phone. Eventually, the images were posted for sale online and videos were sold at local markets. In Canada, a teenage boy was charged with child pornography offences after posting naked pictures of his former girlfriend online after she broke up with him. The consequences for both girls were devastating and their humiliation is compounded by the awareness that images had reached an extensive audience and will continue to do so long into the future.