The Optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in the Convention on the Rights of the child states that the prostitution of children or child prostitution is the practice whereby a child is used by others for sexual activities in return for remuneration or any other form of consideration (Article 2(b)). The remuneration or other consideration could be provided to the child or to another person.
Most generally, the prostitution of children means that a party other than the child benefits from a commercial transaction in which the child is made available for sexual purposes - either an exploiter intermediary who controls or oversees the child's activities for profit, or any other person who negotiates an exchange directly with a child in order to receive sexual gratification.
The provision of children for sexual purposes may also be a medium of exchange between adults. (Convention No 182) of the International Labour Organiztion (ILO) provides that the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution is one of the worst forms of child labor.
This convention, adopted in 1999, provides that countries (including Ghana) that had ratified it must eliminate the practice urgently. It enjoys the fastest pace of ratifications in the ILO's history since 1919.
In 2001, Dr. Richard Estes and Dr. Neil Alan Weiner estimated that in the U.S., 162,000 U.S. homeless youth are victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CVE) and that 57,800 children in homes (including public housing) are estimated to be victims of CVE. They also estimated that 30% of shelter youth and 70% of homeless youth are victims of CVE in the United States.
In the Ukraine, a survey conducted by the group "La Strada-Ukraine" in 2001-2003, based on a sample of 106 women being 'trafficked' out of Ukraine found that 3% were under 18, and the US State Department reported in 2004 that incidents of minors being trafficked was increasing.
Also in Thailand, NGOs have estimated that up to a third of prostitutes are children under 18. A study by the International Labour Organization on child prostitution in Vietnam again reported that incidence of children in prostitution is steadily increasing and children under 18 make up between 5 percent and 20 percent of prostitution depending on the geographical area.
In the Philippines, UNICEF estimated that there are 60,000 child prostitutes and many of the 200 brothels in the notorious Angeles City offer children for sex.
ECPAT New Zealand and Stop Demand Foundation have also cited in a report "The Nature and Extent of the Sex Industry in New Zealand," a police survey of the New Zealand sex industry that 210 children under the age of 18 years were identified as selling sex, with three-quarters being concentrated in one Police District.
The 1996 report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography estimates that about one million children in Asia alone are victims of the sex trade. According to the International Labour Organization, the problem is especially alarming in Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nepal.
A 2006 report by World Vision Middle East/Eastern Europe funded by the Canadian government and supported by six United Nations agencies and the International Organization For Child Migration reported that the sexual exploitation of children, child trafficking and sexual violence towards minors is increasing and that Russia is becoming a new destination for child sex tourism. The report adds that some studies claim approximately 20 per cent to 25 per cent of Moscow's sex workers are minors.
It is believed that one third of street-level prostitutes in the U.S. are less 18 years old while fifty percent of off-street prostitutes are less than 18 years old.Off-street prostitution includes massage parlors, strip clubs, and escort services. According to Estes and Weiner, 12 to 14 is the average age of entry into prostitution for girls under 17 years old in the United States while the average age of entry into prostitution is between 11 and 13.
Eventhough Iam not aware of any current figure of the above in Ghana, the Ghanaian situation seems to be of no difference to the US and other countries as it is no secret at all to find hundreds of children ranging between the ages of 12 and 18 converging at places like Kwame Nkrumah Circle (Kotobabi trotro station, near Freddies Corner), Soldier bar, Abeka Lapaz (Double man spot) Kasoa (Behind the public toilet off the Obom road), Newtown, Cantonments several other places by 7.30pm invloved in Child prostitution. Current media reports also indicates that the practice if not given the needed attention will outweight those in the Western Countries.
Most of these venues also serve as the camps for, armed robbers, drug peddlers, and other criminals exposing these young ones to all kinds of dangers and other forms of social vices.
It is also reported that most of these children who appear ignorant about the dangers of the deadly HIV and AIDS charge between ¢20,000 to ¢30,000 and are provided with some sort of accommodation for a fee of ¢10,000 per client for a night.
The prostitution of children is seen as forming part of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), and is sometimes connected to the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Child sex tourism also falls within the category of the prostitution of children.
Sex workers vrs. child prostitutes
Child prostitution is sometimes used to describe the wider concept of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). However, child prostitution excludes other identifiable manifestations of CSEC, such as commercial sexual exploitation through child marriage, domestic child labour and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
It was the limitations of the term child prostitution that led to the development in the mid-1990s of the term commercial sexual exploitation of children as a more encompassing description of specific forms of sexual trade involving children. Nevertheless, 'child prostitution' remains in common usage and is indeed the wording embedded in international instruments of law.
Some believe that the terms child prostitution and child prostitute carry problematic connotations. They claim this is because these terms, on their own, fail to make it clear that children cannot be expected to make an informed choice to prostitute themselves. The act of prostituting a child is often carried out by another party, as stated in the definition provided by the Special Rappoteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
However, a number of people who are legally classified as children may, in fact, willingly engage in the practice of prostitution. This has been especially prominent in Japan, where it is not uncommon for teenagers and younger school-girls to sell their services to raise money for expensive clothing and accessories.
In addition, worldwide public understanding of prostitution and prostitute has been shifting as a result of the introduction of terms such as sex worker, intended to raise the perceived status of women in prostitution. Some contend this is a misleading term when applied to children.
This contention is based on the belief that anyone under the legal age of consent for sexual intercourse is incapable of willingly participating. They may disapprove of the concept that a child 'worker' has somehow chosen to follow a 'profession'. Others contend that, even if many "child prostitutes" are being used against their will, a number of underage prostitutes are in fact participating willingly. In light of these concerns, international mainstream writing is increasingly avoiding the term child prostitute.
Children are often pushed by social structures and individual agents into situations in which adults take advantage of their vulnerability and sexually exploit and abuse them. Structure and agency commonly combine to force a child into commercial sex: for brothels, bars and clubs, or homes, or particular streets and areas example, the prostitution of a child frequently follows from prior sexual abuse, often in the child's home.
The prostitution of children is usually conducted in particular environments, such as, bars, hotels etc Sometimes it is not organized, but often it is, either on a small scale through individual exploiter-pimps or on a larger scale through extensive criminal networks.(ref; organised crime)
Children also engage in prostitution, however, when they exchange sex outside these environments and in return not only for basic needs such as accommodation, food, clothing, or safety, but also for extra pocket money for desired consumer goods otherwise out of their reach. There is a subculture of "pocket money prostitution" in many consumer societies, whereby girls and boys under 18 rent out their sexual services for cash or expensive gifts, or to save up for cars, motorcycles, even college tuition.
Living and working conditions for children that are prostituted are frequently substandard. Such children are commonly poorly paid or unpaid, kept in unsanitary conditions, denied access to proper medical care, and constantly watched and kept subservient through threat of force. These threats are believed may be physical or psychological in nature.
While some sex tourists may use children involved in prostitution, it has been argued that the majority of their 'clients' are instead the locals.
Prostitutes may experience a lifetime of recurrent illnesses, such as veneral diseases, fertility problems, pregnancy complications, malnutrition, tuberculosis and depression. Children involved in the sex trade face new and potentially fatal dangers in light of the spread of HIVand AIDS. In addition to this they often suffer from the same psychological symptoms as children who are molested
In Africa and South Asia, many countries are faced with a rising child prostitution problem and the linkage with tourism is evident. Child prostitution and the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation is also increasing in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.
In the name of boosting the tourism industry in Ghana, many foreigners are allowed into the country without the needed monitoring machineries put in place.As the biggest African football fiesta (GHANA 2008) approaches Ghana is expecting thousands of foreigners, many of whom will come under the diguise of football to exploit our cherished future leaders.
I challenge the various stakeholders, especially the media,security services, parents etc to bring to light these shameful characters before they live behind for us various sexually transdmitted diseases and fatherless children that would cost us more than we might have acquired from the football fiesta.
Right from the youngest to the aged we have equal responsibilities to run to the rescue of these children as Ghana's future would be equally blank if that of these children is blank.