Authored by - Ms. Nikita Thawani
Designation - Student, Gitarattan International Business School
Child prostitution is an illegal offence wherein an underage person involved in sexual activity by way of harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting for the purpose of commercial act without his/her age of consent considered as general prostitution. Either children are kidnapped for sex trafficking or poor children are lured in sexual activities to procure basic requirements for their survival. The United Nations defines it as “The act of engaging or offering the services of a child to perform sexual acts for money or other consideration with that person or any other person”. Situations like social structure of a place and agents take opportunity to sexually exploit them or take extreme step of selling them for their ulterior motives. In certain cases, victims are generally runaways from their homes, kidnapped by strangers by feeding them lies and making false promises, some are homeless children, some are sold by their parents due to their economic conditions. There are three prominent categories identified for child prostitution that is children prostituted by pimps, by brothels and by family members and friends. In this connection globally respective governments should take initiative to establish rehabilitation programs for helping them to move forward from the trauma that they have faced.
In India, maximum cases of child prostitution are in the six major cities viz. Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. However, Nepal identified as one of the largest sources of children prostitutes to Indian brothels. However, worldwide in Africa (Tanzania), Europe (Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico), Asia Pacific (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam) and United States (New York) the major portion of child prostitution belongs to these countries.
Most of the children involved in prostitution are uneducated, rejected by their families or marginalized by the society. Usually girls were put into prostitution, this phenomenon has now changed, several young boys are also now being involved in prostitution regardless of their race, age, or socioeconomic status. Nowadays, there is no gender bias in this business, both boys and girls are a part of this heinous crime.
In certain countries, special sex education classes are given to teenagers in high school, which is absent in India. Sex education not only provides necessary information to young children that prevents teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, but also teaches them about what all a stranger or even a known person should not be allowed to do with them and the importance of consent.
Internet provides websites and mobile phones facilitate easy access to social media that connects children with the open market where they become prey to unethical people with a criminal mindset inclined towards child prostitution. They lure children with promises of a better life abroad with multiple lucrative job opportunities. This technological connectivity often results in the victims getting stranded far from home to unfamiliar locations and cultures and sometimes even language barriers which can create difficulty for children in expressing themselves. This practice is most widespread in which more than 10 million children are involved in prostitution worldwide belongs to undeveloped countries from Southeast Asia, while their customers are Westerners.
Child Prostitution not only affects a child physically but mentally as well. Some children manage to escape, but still face the trauma for their whole life and those who are not able to escape either grow up facing this problem or lose their lives at an early age while hoping for this hardship to end. Health Hazards are quite common for children involved in prostitution such as vaginal tearing, physical after-effects of torture, pain, infection, or unwanted pregnancy. Furthermore, they are prone to many sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, due to unprotective sexual encounters. Psychological symptoms, such as depression, personality or sexual orientation confusion, problems with behavior (aggressiveness or anger), sleeping disorder, low self-esteem and mistrust or hatred towards adults. Moreover, they also are subjected to extremely unhygienic conditions and have limited access to healthcare.
The Constitution of India prohibits human trafficking, forced labour and all forms of exploitation under Article 23. However, United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UNGIFT) has been established and aims to fight human trafficking through mutual support by taking grant from the United Arab Emirates. Under Article 15(3), State has the power to make any special provisions for women and children even if they are discriminatory. The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 deals with prostitution, but it is limited to child prostitution. Section 372 and 373 of IPC criminalizes selling and buying of minor girls. Punishment of this crime is 10 years of imprisonment and a fine. There are many provisions in India to prevent child prostitution, still to this date there are many cases of the same.
The Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C) 1973, protects girls from sexual exploitation; any female child under the age of 18 years is abducted or unlawfully detained can be ordered immediate restoration. This action cannot be taken except upon complaint made on oath.
Child prostitution is not limited to developing countries only, it is a global problem. None of the children willingly engage in prostitution instead are tricked or lured into the business. To overcome this problem, basic education should be imparted so that a child is able to think on its own and choose a way of life with dignity. Laws should be made to change the mentality of the people involved in these activities, punishing them in such a manner, that no one will dare to indulge in such a deed.