The trafficking of children for sexual purposes involves the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbour, or receipt of children for sex-specific labour including prostitution, pornography, stripping, live sex shows, and prostitution tourism.
Children become victims when they are sold by parents or family members either knowingly or unknowingly. Families can be tricked by an agent or recruiter who often promises to take the children away for jobs in another city or country that include waitressing, modeling, and work in factories or as domestic servants. Some recruiters may provide marriage offers with someone who can provide financial security. These recruiters can be professional criminals, members of organized criminal networks, adults who grew up in prostitution, and the friends and relatives of children or their families. Still, other children are kidnapped by individuals and/or traffickers, and physically forced or coerced.
Sex traffickers frequently subject their child victims to “debt-bondage,” an illegal practice in which the traffickers tell their victims that they owe money (often relating to the victims’ living expenses and transport into the country) and that they must pledge their personal services to repay the debt. The amount of the debt is arbitrary, and the slave-holder will often raise or lower it depending on the behaviour of the slave. Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims including starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to the victims and the victims’ families, and forced drug use.
Child sex trafficking occurs in all countries, which are classified as:
Origin or Source countries: where the trafficked child is from;
Transit countries: where the trafficked child may be temporarily held en route to the final destination;
Destination countries: where the trafficked child ends up, and is enslaved.
While many children are trafficked to foreign lands, they are also trafficked within their own countries. It usually involves a complex network of people, from border officials and law enforcement (who are often involved, or bribed with money to turn a “blind eye” to the situation) to the traffickers themselves.
Anna was promised a job as a waitress that led her to be trafficked from her home in the Philippines to Malaysia. She was coerced into signing an official-looking contract which detailed how much she owed to her traffickers for expenses such as air tickets and travel taxes. Anna was then informed that she had to work off her debt. Anna’s virginity then, was sold for $80.
Anna was forced to work up to 17 hours a day, seven days a week. “When a customer comes, then our mommy will call us, then introduce us one by one, then the customer will choose. If the customer want to make love with you he will tell the mommy, then he will pay, then you go out in the other room,” she explains.
When Anna went to Malaysian immigration officials for help, they called her traffickers. Then at her real mother’s urging, the Philippine embassy in Malaysia tracked down her trafficker and called to inquire about Anna’s status. She was told that if they didn’t tell them she was fine, the corrupt police would throw her in jail. Anna memorized the number of the Philippine embassy and called back in desperation. She was rescued and returned home to the Philippines where she is now living with the HIV virus.