Child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation


Traffickers use psychological manipulations and coercive methods to maintain control over their victims and to make their escape virtually impossible by destroying their physical and psychological defenses. Reported methods include physical, sexual, and psychological violence; isolation; deployment in areas unknown to them; dependence on alcohol or drugs; controlled access to food and water; and monitoring through the use of weapons, cameras, and dogs (IOM, 2007; Zimmerman et al., 2003). Children who experience CSE confront all the dangers associated with sexual abuse; they are also subjected to routine beatings and abuse by traffickers, employers, pimps, madams, and customers. It is the extent and persistence of the psychological and physical abuse and the coercive, deceitful, and exploitative relationship with the traffickers that distinguish trafficking from other maltreatment.



Child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) are egregious crimes, extreme forms of child maltreatment, and major violations of children’s human rights. Although empirical research is sorely lacking on the impact of such crimes on children’s developmental well-being, numerous reports describe the physical and emotional trauma, humiliation, violence, degradation associated with treatment as a commodity, and unrelenting fear and abuse. Children are routinely sold like commodities in a multibillion dollar industry that operates with near impunity (International Labor Organization—International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor [ILO-IPEC], 2001; United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime [UNODC], unrelenting demand factors; Chase & Statham, 2005; Rafferty, 2007). Attitudinal factors are also linked with CSE (e.g., the belief that sexual intercourse with virgins reduces risks associated with HIV/AIDS; Lalor, 2004).