Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

Life under the poverty line pushes Cameroon’s children into prostitution at a very young age

Posted on Feb 13, 2014

Cameroon, situated in one of the poorest regions of the world, is marked by persistent conflict. Out of 187 countries, Cameroon is ranked 150th on the Human Development Index, with 46% of its children living under the poverty threshold. Although unemployment reached 20% of the population, 40% of children aged 10 to 17 were in the workforce in 2010.

Children in Cameroon are highly at risk for sexual exploitation. One out of four children under eight years of age is orphaned while almost 30% of children under five do not have the proper identification papers. Even worse, 26% of children under eight are victims of serious physical abuse. The main risk factors for such abuse are extreme poverty, the lack of parental supports and an inadequate legislation to combat this phenomenon. These factors also push young people into prostitution. According to one study, around 4000 of children aged 11 to 17 are victims of child prostitution in Cameroon and most are forced into prostitution between the ages of 9 and 17. Despite being victims, the authorities treat these children as criminals and many are arrested and then forced to have sex with police officers in order to be released. Moreover, one out of for children forced to work in the sex trade is subjected to torture by both the clients and police.

In 2009, the Cameroonian authorities adopted a new policy for protecting children against commercial sexual exploitation, but without a proper monitoring system, the plan was short-lived. The Government has recently taken several steps to try and curb the sexual exploitation of children; however, the minimum international standards on combating child trafficking are still not up to par. Furthermore, at present, only a few convictions have been made against perpetrators of child trafficking.

To under­stand more about the com­mer­cial sex­ual exploita­tion of chil­dren in Cameroon you can read the full report here: