What does the global research say about the sexual exploitation of boys? Read The Global Literature Review

The gender dimension of the sale and sexual exploitation of children

Posted on Jul 28, 2021

In May, ECPAT responded to a call for input to inform the thematic report on gender dimension of the sale and sexual exploitation of children by the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children 

ECPAT’s submission, which was prepared using input from members of our global network, will help inform the thematic report on Gender dimension of the sale and sexual exploitation of children and the importance of integrating a human rights-based and a non-binary approach to combating and eradicating sale and sexual exploitation of children. Here are some of the key points we mentioned: 

Common societal norms, practices and behaviours across multiple countries 

A range of societal norms, practices and behaviours explicitly or implicitly involving the sale and sexual exploitation of children included 

  • Victim-blaming/shaming which discourage child victims from help-seeking and reporting. 
  • Anti-LGBTQI sentiment which particularly means Boy victims of sexual exploitation (both gay and straight) are less likely to report to avoid being labelled as gay. 
  • Rigid patriarchal system and cultural practices such as child, early and forced marriage and caste-systems. 
  • Reluctance to discuss and educate children about sex. 

Gaps in incorporating gender and gender identity into legal frameworks, policies and practices 

We shared a series of country specific examples on how countries are failing to protect all children adequately, due to the way legal and policy frameworks frame gender and gender identity related issues in the context of child sexual exploitation. For example: 

  • In South Korea, anal intercourse is not considered as “intercourse of genitals”, resulting in reduced punishment of offenders. 
  • In Norway, there is a two-gender policy when it comes to laws, meaning that individuals who do not identify as not being recorded. 
  • In Nepal, gender diverse and transgender individuals are all misrepresented as “third gender”, resulting in a skewed understanding of the LGBTQI+ individuals. 

Recommendations towards a more gender- and disability-responsive, and child sensitive approach 

Lastly, we made a series of recommendations on what needs to be done to reduce the vulnerability and to identify the protection needs of children to prevent their sale and sexual trafficking, with a gender- and disability-responsive, and child sensitive approach. These included: 

  • A need for better data collection by governments on sexual exploitation of children – disaggregated by age, gender, nationality of the victim, perpetrator factors, and the type of abuse/exploitation, as well as more research focused on gender identities. 
  • Services to train frontline workers better on biases and on being inclusive of boys and diverse-SOGIE children, with a focus on needs-led responses which tackle push factors, including homelessness and economic hardships. 
  • Education on sexual exploitation of children for children, parents and professionals which is gender-responsive and avoids stigmatizing victims, so that children are more willing to seek assistance from adults. 

Stay Connected. Sign Up to Receive Updates About Our Impact on Child Sexual Exploitation