This article is written by Riya Verma, a Third year B.A. LLB (Hons.) Student of Ideal Institute of Management and Technology (Affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indrapastha University), Delhi.
“IMAGINE HAVING ALL OF YOUR FREEDOMS TAKEN AWAY. BEING FORCED TO WORK AGAINST YOUR WILL, AND CONSTANTLY LIVING UNDER THE THREATS OF VIOLENCE. SADLY, THIS SITUATION IS A REALITY FOR THE MILLIONS OF CHILDREN EACH YEAR AS PART OF THE GLOBAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING INDUSTRY.”
The numbers of children in contemporary society involved in prostitution are largely unknown. However, there are multiple factors which leave children vulnerable and involved in prostitution. Child prostitution is an old, global and complex phenomenon, which deprives children of their childhood, their dignity and their rights. Child prostitution can be seen as a commercial sexual exploitation of a children involving an element of forced labor, and thus can be considered as a contemporary form of slavery. Globally, child prostitution is reported to be a common problem in Central and South America and Asia. Of all the South East Asian nations, the problem is most prolific in Thailand.
Child Prostitution is a significant global problem that has yet to receive appropriate medical and public health attentions. Worldwide, an estimated 1 million children are forced into prostitution every year and total number of prostituted children could be as high as 10 million. Child prostitution like any other forms of child sexual abuse, is not only a cause of death and high morbidity in millions of children, but also a gross violation of their rights and dignity.
Causes Of Child Prostitution:
• Ill treatment by parents.
• Bad company.
• Social customs.
• Family prostitutes.
• Lack of sex education, media.
• Poverty and economic distress.
• Early marriage and desertion.
• Lack of recreational facilities and ignorance.
USING CHILDREN FOR PROSTITUTTION
Child Prostitution refers to the sexual exploitation of children for a remuneration in cash or in kind, usually but not always organized by intermediary. The child prostitutes are often between 11 and 18 years of age. These children come from broken family and lured by kind old man who promised to give them food and shelter. The child prostitution is closely connected with child pornography. The factors that push children into prostitution are numerous for example: economic disparities, inequitable socio-economic structure, harmful traditions and religious practices which undermines fulfillment of the basic rights of children.
WHY CHOOSE CHILDREN INSTEAD OF ADULTS?
It is easier to abuse a child than an adult.
Sexual exploiters utilize the docility of children because they are less able to defend themselves. This deviant attitude is often caused by the feeling of sexual and economic power, by the desire for new experiences, or by the feeling of impunity related to anonymity.
Moreover, in certain cultures, myths and prejudices often justify the search for sexual relations with children. In Asia for example, some men are persuaded that the fact of having sexual relations with very young virgin girls prevents them from contracting HIV/AIDS, as well as curing this illness. Most men believe also that having sexual relations with a virgin increases their virility, as well as bringing longevity and success in business.
CONSEQUENCES FOR THE CHILDREN
Child prostitution leads to negative effects on the wellbeing and mental health of the child later on in life since they frequently become pimps themselves.
Access to Service
Sexually exploited children are uneducated children. Rejected by their relatives and marginalized by society, they have little access to healthcare and suffer extremely unhygienic conditions.
The spread of AIDS
Prostitution promotes the spread of HIV since numerous clients refuse to have protected sexual encounters with a child. The children are therefore vulnerable to many sexually transmitted infections.
Physical and Psychological illness
On a physical level, the damage to children includes vaginal tearing, physical after-effects of torture, pain, infection, or unwanted pregnancy.
On a psychological level, the child can also show many symptoms, such as depression, personality or sexual orientation confusion, problems with behavior (aggressiveness or anger), trouble sleeping, loss of self-confidence, mistrust, or hatred towards adults.
INDIAN LAWS RELATING TO CHILD PROSTITUTION.
THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
Under the constitution, Article 23 deals with prohibition of trafficking in human beings, forced labor and all forms of exploitation. This was aimed at putting an end to all forms of trafficking in the human beings including prostitution and beggary. The judiciary in Raj Bahadur Vs Legal Remembrancer, the court held that the traffic in women for immoral purposes is prohibited under Article 23 The Directive Principles of State Policy serve as the guiding star for various social welfare legislation passed in favor of women. Article 39(e) deals with the health and strength of workers, men, women and the tender age of children should not be abused. Article 39(f) insists that children be given opportunities to develop in a healthy manner so that childhood and youth are protected. Referring to Article 39 in State of Rajasthan Vs Om Prakash, the Supreme Court said that the courts would have a sensitive approach when dealing with cases of child rape and it is the responsibility of the court to provide proper legal protection to these children. Article 15(3) enables the state to make special provisions for woman and children even if they are discriminatory.
The Indian Penal Code lends a helping hand to the special laws enacted to curb prostitution by attacking the source of this evil. Section 366A makes procreation of a minor girl from one part of place to another is punishable and section 366B, which makes importation of a girl below the age of 21 years punishable. These sections try to prevent prostitutions by strict penal action. Section 372 and 373 makes selling and buying of minor girls for the purpose of prostitution, a crime for which even 10 years of imprisonment and fine can be awarded.
Buying minor for purposes of prostitution (sec. 373)
Whoever buys, hires or otherwise obtains possession of any person under the age of 18 years with intent that such person, shall, at any age, be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful purpose, or knowing it to be likely that such person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Any prostitute or any person keeping or managing a brothel, who buys, hires, or otherwise obtains possession of a female under the age of 18 years shall, until contrary is proved, be presumed to have obtained possession of such female with that intent that she shall be used for the purpose of prostitution.
Child prostitution is a unique form of child abuse that is often hidden from the public eye. It is not just limited to developing countries, child prostitution is a global issue and also a significant global problem that has yet to receive appropriate medical and public health attention. These children rarely choose to engage in prostitution services but instead are tricked or lured into the business. Once in the business, the children face traumatic psychological and physical abuse that no person like a child should never experience. Those children that are lucky enough to escape remain traumatized for the rest of their lives. However, not all child prostitutes are able to escape from the business. Many do not survive to adulthood and remain sex workers forever.