What Is Sexual Exploitation?
Sexual exploitation is a form of slavery, in which individuals are coerced into sexual acts. Essentially, a person is treated like property, in which the person acting as having "right of ownership" exposes someone to rape or sexual abuse. The victim may be forced into sexual acts with the captor, with other people, or forced in to a position of servitude, marriage, or other activities involving a sexual component. When a person is sold to another for these purposes, it is called sex trafficking, which is a form of human trafficking.
Sexual slavery varies by country and by reason. As a major human rights issue, there are many organizations working together to eradicate this practice. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the most common countries who partake in sex trafficking include: Thailand, Japan, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, and the Ukraine. Religion is also sometimes a factor in who engages in sexual exploitation.
Child Sexual Exploitation:
As much as we may be loathe to admit it, child sexual exploitation is very real. Children are sold into slavery to partake in child prostitution, child pornogrophy, sex tourism, or trafficking. These children are often forced into sexual situations for the monetary benefit of an adult.
Child prostitution is a situation in which a child is forced to engage in a sexual act for the benefit of another person.
Child pornography is when sexual images, movies, or materials are produced. Often the child is abused in these photographs or movies, which are then typically distributed.
Child sex tourism is when a child is taken to another country to again engage in child sexual abuse that is often arranged commercially between the abuser and another individual.
Causes of Sexual Exploitation:
There are many reasons why a person may become the victim of sexual exploitation. Here are some of the reasons that adults or children are placed in a sex slavery situation.
War It is not uncommon for victims to find themselves treated as the spoils of war, kidnapped and then used or sold into sexual slavery.
Local Demand Some societies have a higher demand for sex slaves and as such, it is more acceptable, demanded, and prevalent.
Poverty is a common factor among those who find themselves as sex slaves. Often victims are young, uneducated, and poor, and sex work generally has a high profit return for low cost.
The internet has done a lot in the last ten years to make sexual exploitation easier than ever.
Runaways are more likely to find themselves in a sexually exploited situation.
Chaotic family environments filled with abuse, absent parents, or drug use may be a risk-factor for sex slavery.
There are many many problems associated with sexual exploitation. On a physical level, the victim is exposed to abuse and sexual abuse. They are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, as well as physical assault or injury.
How To Combat Sexual Exploitation?
The United Nations has taken many steps to combat sexual exploitation around the world. They suggest a number of different methods to reducing instances of sexual exploitation.
Raising Awareness: This is the key to prevention in that the more populations are aware of the problem, how to notice the problem and what to do if sexual exploitation is dicovered, the more likely it is that the problem will be observed and, more importantly, reported.
Building complaint mechanisms is key to giving people a place and a method to report that allows them to feel safe doing so. This can be a specific department, a form, or some method that is available to all areas and all populations, without fear of discovery.
Code of conduct development and implementation, or creating laws and rules to ban sex trafficking and sexual exploitation are key to setting a legal precedent to discourage and address this behavior. The Secretary-General's Bulletin on PSEA, which is the United Nations' Code of Conduct, can be found here.
Training Personnel to whom these reports are made and who manage sexual exploitation issues is key to effective responses.
Screening the workforce to ensure that no perpetrators of sexual exploitation crimes are hired.
Other Sexual Exploitation Resources:
The United Nations' Page on Protection From Sexual Exploitation and Abuse - provides an overview of sexual exploitation, as well as the UN's standards for addressing sexual exploitation, and information, resources, and contacts surrounding this issue.
Center for Missing and Exploited Children - Non-profit dedicated to protecting children, this website contains information about the types of exploitation, as well as resources and information.
Unicef - This is a document about child protection from commercial sexual exploitation.
Cornell University Law School - Legal statues and law around the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
www.uri.edu - Factbook on global sexual exploitation, broken down by country and region.