Despite feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, Austria remains one the richest nations in the world. Austrians enjoy a high standard of living and compulsory education for nine years, starting at the age of six. The country ranks 19th on the Human Development Index and has a good child protection system in place. However, more needs to be done when it comes to protecting Austrian children from commercial sexual exploitation.
There are no reliable statistics about the extent of child marriage in Austria, however, research indicates that this is becoming a frequent practice. As a result of an influx of migration, child marriage has become commonplace within certain populations, specifically Roma and Muslim communities. Some male immigrants are reportedly marrying children in their home countries and returning to Austria with them. Unfortunately, girls and boys threatened by forced marriage do not receive the protection and support they need. These children are placed in institutions that are inadequate in meeting their needs and as a result many children choose to return to their families.
Austrian police, in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, Interpol and Europol, have uncovered several international child pornography networks but still have more work to do. Research suggests that viewing, downloading and possessing child sexual abuse material has also become a major issue in the country. Children in Austria are becoming more and more active online and as the online sexual exploitation of children continues to grow globally, Austria must remain vigilant and increase its efforts to protect its children from online abuse.
To understand more about the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Austria you can read the full report here.