Child Trafficking for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation


This paper focuses on child trafficking for sex exploitation, the factors that facilitate its growth and the reason why it is hard to detect and deter. Additionally, the paper focuses on the multiplicity of the issues and how this negates the gains made in efforts to combat the crime. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate child trafficking for the purpose of sex exploitation.

As such, the paper reviews existing literature. Since the paper aims at borrowing heavily from recent research, the study discriminates against studies conducted more than ten years ago. This research revels that child trafficking has grown into fully fledged trade. Child trafficking tends to transform, with time. This calls for continued research.


Human trafficking is a complicated problem. However, to understand scope within which the problem can be defined, UNICEF through the Palermo Protocol has provided a working definition.

Regardless of this, human trafficking assumed numerous dimensions. Coupled with the fact that human trafficking keeps transforming complicates it further. Numerous efforts have been initiated to curb the vice. However, lack of coordination affects progress towards successfully curbing the vice. Additionally lack information negates any anti child trafficking initiatives.

While trafficking of children for sex exploitation has flourished as a trade, the issue is obscured by overall efforts targeting the human trafficking. This necessitates further studies focusing on child trafficking for sex exploitation. This study focuses on the various issues dealing with child trafficking for exploitation as sex slaves and also proposes numerous ingenious recommendations (UNICEF, 2005).

Literature review

Human trafficking is an age old tradition, and common in many parts of the world. This phenomenon is manifested in various ways. Additionally, human trafficking has undergone transformation over time. This makes it difficult to detect, define and deter (Norris, 2008).

While human trade has been there since time immemorial, the complexity of the matter is intensified by the fact that the term trafficking is used to refer to the various activities that involves the illegal transfer of people across borders (Dottridge, 2008). Because these activities are varied, it is thus difficult to develop a universally acceptable definition of the term human trafficking. Human trafficking is precipitated by a combination of factors, which further increases the complexity of the matter.

The major factors that precipitate human trafficking are: demand for cheap labor across national borders, the evolution of sex as an economic activity and the restrictions imposed on legal cross border migration (Norris, 2008). Additionally, globalization has facilitated human trafficking since it has opened opportunities for people to legally cross international border in such of better economic opportunities (Vadura, 2009).

Despite the fact that there are existing difficulties involved in defining and understating human trafficking (Dottridge’s 2008), the United Nations has developed a definition within which human trafficking is perceived. This definition is contained in the Palermo Protocol, which sets to harmonize the various issues involved in human trafficking.

According to UNICEF Article 3(a) of the Palermo Protocol, human trafficking is defined as “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion … for the purpose of exploitation” (UNICEF, 2005).

Within this definition, the scope of children trafficking is alluded to, in that UNICEF refers to human trafficking as involving the transfer of people in vulnerable positions for the purposes of exploitation, which including sexual exploitation (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006). Since children are some of the most vulnerable social groups, their plight is recognized within this definition.

Children are the biggest victims of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation as well as to supply cheap labor (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006). There seems to be two major markets for child slaves: countries within conflict zones, and rich countries mostly in Europe.

According to UNICEF, Poverty seems to be the motivating factor for traffic of children to these two markets (UNICEF, 2005). In conflict zones, children are recruited into armies and act as soldiers, chefs, messengers and other minor duties related to war. Eventually, they are introduced to sex slavery. However, children are trafficked to economically developed countries with the promise of good jobs. They are gradually forced into sex trade (Wolthuis and Blaak 2001).

Governments as well as local and International Non Governmental Organizations and other human rights organizations have with time increased surveillance activities to deter human trafficking (Dottridge (2008). This phenomenon obscures child trafficking, since the interests of children vulnerable to trafficking are largely ignored.

This phenomenon makes children trafficking especially for sexual exploitation successful. Additionally, that little data exists on the number of children trafficked throughout the world (Dottridge, 2008). With regards to the notion that there exists minimal data on the magnitude of child traficking, answer to Dottridge (2008) assertions, UNICEF confirms that by the year 2001, the number of children trafficked annually had reached 1.8 million (Staiger, 2005).

This indicates that child trafficking has matured as a trade and is necessitated by a number of factors. As such, due to the ever changing nature of child trafficking, there needs to be concerted efforts aimed at curbing this vice. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the latest developments and propose workable solutions.

Research methods

The purpose of this research paper is to evaluate the extent of child trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation by reviewing existing research results. As such, archival research method seems relevant for this paper. To arrive at conclusive results, data was sought from scholarly articles as well as from standard documents from recognized bodies such as UNICEF.

Researching for this paper required that a working definition be established. As such, to arrive at this definition, various sources were consulted, all of which pointed to the UN Palermo Protocol. This was thus taken as the standard working definition for this paper. Once the standard definition was established, various recent documents were sought with the aim of establishing latest research results.

These documents were organized into those dealing with the nature of the industry, this dealing with causative factors and those highlighting suggested recommendations. To arrive at a well informed paper, ideas within these papers were compared and contrasted. This was not only intended at highlighting the differences in ideas within but also attempted to harmonize these ideas into a workable solutions. Conclusions were then drawn from these varied sources.


Human trafficking is a fledging global problem despite the concerted efforts to curb it. Despite the numerous laws developed to curtail the growth of human trade, the vice has continuously been transformed, making it difficult to deter. Human trafficking is multifaceted; it takes various forms which usually go undetected.

The scope within which child trafficking is perceived as can be termed as: any illegal transfer of persons in positions of vulnerability for the purposes of exploitation (UNICEF 2005; Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics (2006).

These include servitude, exploitation for sex, trade of human parts, slavery and any other purpose which is against the basic human rights. UNICEF in this case does not mention child trafficking (UNICEF, 2005). However, the plight of children vulnerable to trafficking is alluded to in this definition by the mere mentioned of the term vulnerable groups (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006).

Existing data indicate variation in the number of children involved in child trafficking. Different sources indicate varying figures. About 1.8 million children are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation (UNICEF, 2005). But by 2007 the figure had risen to puts the figure at 2 million (Rafferty, 2007).

Child trafficking seems to be precipitated by economic factors and that it is estimated that the industry is worth more than US $ 5m (UNICEF, 2005). In his regard it is imperative to mention that there are two major markets for child trafficking, an idea that is loosely alluded to by (Wolthuis and Blaak, 2001; Staiger, 2005).

The biggest market is into the rich nations especially in Europe and the United States of America. Within this market children are lured from poorer countries in Africa, Europe and Asia with the promise of good jobs. Most of the risky groups for this market are women in their teens, especially those who come from poverty prone areas (Wolthuis and Blaak, 2001).

Additionally, these teen girls have low levels of education. This makes them more vulnerable to trafficking since their low level of education only qualifies them for low paying jobs. Children are coerced, or manipulated into sex slavery and prostitution. These children are recruited for production of pornographic films and movies for sale (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006; Wolthuis and Blaak, 2001).

The second biggest market for child trafficking is within the conflict regions. Within these regions, children are usually recruited as soldiered, couriers, chefs, cleaners and other jobs related to war. Those vulnerable for trafficking into conflict zones are children vulnerable to economic hardships as well as those with low levels of education (Wolthuis and Blaak 2001).

Regardless of the market into which these children are trafficked, the consequences are usually similar. These children are subject to both physical and psychological abuse. They are also exposed to abuse of drugs, infection of dangerous STDs such as HIV, as well as death. Isolation from family members, relatives and friends has negative socio-psychological impact on the victims (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics 2006).

Child trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation thrives due to a number of factors. Globalization is one of the major factor which facilities which has led to elimination of strict legal cross border restrictions (Vadura, 2009). However, this notion is not universally acceptable since economic benefits seem to trigger child trafficking (Norris, 2008).

However, international migration laws have necessitated child trafficking, as cunning child traffickers seek to exploit the gains of globalization. These children end up being sex slaves. Rise of sex an economic activity, the imposition of cross border migration laws and the demand for cheap labor in developed countries mainly contributes to child trafficking (Norris, 2008). Combined, these four factors have made it easier to develop a thriving trade of children for the purposes of sex exploitation.

Currently, efforts to deter human trafficking are minimal and less effective. However, there needs to be development of guidelines specifically targeting trafficking of children for sexual exploitation. Additionally, these guidelines should be multi layered: should have the ability to be implemented at both the national and international level (Dottridge, 2008).

Furthermore, there should be a multi layered anti child trafficking guidelines (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006; Dottridge 2008). However the most effective means to curb child trafficking for sexual exploitation should mainly involve bridging the existing information gaps (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006). This will largely involve establishing a system that coordinates anti child trafficking initiatives at both national and international levels.

Additionally, there needs to be public forum to discuss the issue. These forums should target men, especially with the aim of educating them on the negative elements of the vice since men “create the demand for sex slavery” (Dottridge, 2008). Thus, there is need to implement findings of research done with regards child trafficking, as well as increase financial backing to anti child trafficking initiatives (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006)

Discussion of results

Child trafficking for sexual exploitation is a thriving industry, worth more than US $ 5m (UNICEF 2005). This involves trafficking of more than about 2 million children annually. This is indicative of the enormous economic value of child trafficking. a combination of demand for cheap labor, demand for sex, globalization and the limitation of migration laws seems to include child trafficking (Norris, 2008; Vadura, 2009).

However, all these factors seem to conglomerate around a number of issues directly related to economics. To begin with, victims of child trafficking are venerable because of economics reasons. As explained by risky groups come from areas hard hit by poverty and economic decline (UNICEF, 2005; Wolthuis and Blaak, 2001).

As such, these victims see the opportunity to move abroad in search of better jobs as chances not only to empower themselves economically but also their families. Additionally, victims of child trafficking for sexual exploitation have low levels of education. This makes them only qualify for low levels jobs, and subject to exploitation. This adds to their vulnerability. The promise of well paying jobs abroad seems an opportunity for personal economic growth

Child traffickers take advantage of such vulnerability. The lure of better jobs abroad especially in economically developed countries makes these children easy targets. Once inside the child trafficking rings, these children are manipulated coerced and threatened into sexual prostitution, production of pornographic films and sex slavery. The fact that these children are illegal immigrants with no chance for legal recourse traps them inside the vice. This makes them into objects of trade for the benefit of child traffickers.

Human trafficking is complicated by its multifaceted nature, making efforts to deter it almost impossible. However a combination of initiatives would go along way into curbing this menace. As explained by the formulation of multi layered legal framework would enable anti child trafficking forces deter this vice (Dottridge, 2008).

These guidelines would be implemented at both the national and international level. While this implies the need for cross national cooperation, these guidelines would not be beneficial without proper coordination efforts.

As such, implementation of intergovernmental coordination seems relevant (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006). Additionally, the fact that child trafficking is a multi million dollar industry need an equal amount of funding to effectively deal with powerful cartels that control child trafficking. As such, increased funding would go along way in giving anti child trafficking agents the necessary financial might (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006).

Since child trafficking is in constant state of transformation, it should be subject to constant review. As such, continuous studies need to be done, to assist the anti child trafficking agents understand its changing dynamics. Findings of these studies should be implemented (Tiurukanova and Institute for Urban Economics, 2006). Combinedly, all these efforts would not only target to bridge the information gap that exists but also help reduce cases of child trafficking significantly.


Child trafficking for the purpose of sex exploitation has grown into a multi million dollar industry. Victims of this heinous act are usually left with both physical and psychological scars. A lot of efforts seem to be directed towards combating human trafficking. This obscures the trafficking of children for the purposes of sex exploitation.

To combat this crime, new initiatives needs to be directed towards curbing trafficking of children. This will only be achieved through continued research and implementation of research findings. Additionally increased coordination of anti trafficking initiates coupled with increased funding would enable anti child trafficking agents deal with the menace more efficiently

Reference List

Dottridge, M., (2008). Child trafficking for sexual purposes. Retrieved 22 Nov. 2011 from pdf

This is a theme paper on child trafficking. The paper provides insights into the general issues involved in child trafficking, challenges and possible solutions. The paper also notes that there has been very little effort in developing guidelines to deal with child trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Norris, L., (2008). Child Trafficking in the UK: An examination of contemporary approaches. Internet Journal of Criminology Retrieved 22 Nov. 2011 from

This is an exploratory study into the current thinking with regards to human trafficking. Norris focuses on trafficking of children into UK, and suggests three major factors which facilitate trafficking children into UK. Additionally, child trafficking is seen as an ever changing phenomenon.

Rafferty, Y., (2007). Children for Sale: Child Trafficking in Southeast Asia. Child Abuse Review 16:401-422.

This is an exploratory study into sale of children in Asia as sex slaves. The paper focuses on numbers of children trafficked. Additionally the paper describes the various types of children sex slaves as well as the various types of sex crime offenders

Staiger, I. (2005). Trafficking in Children for the purpose of Sexual Exploitation in the EU. European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 13(4):603-624.

This is an expository study that focuses on the statistics of children being trafficked into the European Union. Other than focusing on other issues related to child trafficking, the study also highlights the economic value of the European child slave industry.

Tiurukanova, E. and Institute for Urban Economics. (2006). Human trafficking in the Russian federation Inventory and analysis of the current Situation and responses. Retrieved 22 Nov. 2011 from

This is an extensive report on the human trafficking situation in Russia. The report focuses on the transit of human from countries of origin into Russia. Additionally, this report provides novel recommendation on how to curb the human trafficking vice.

UNICEF. (2005). Combating Child Trafficking. UNICEF. Retrieved 22 Nov. 2011 from

This is the blue print document as pertaining child trafficking. The paper provides the legal scope of human trafficking, the statistics as well as other legal enforcement procedure implemented in efforts to curb human trafficking.

Vadura, K., (2009). Globalization and human commodities: combating child trafficking in the European Union. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Retrieved 22 Nov. 2011 from

This is an expository study which reveals a number of issues concerning the trafficking of children and women. The paper defines human trafficking as an issue that violates basic human rights. Additionally, globalization is highlighted as major factor which facilitates human trafficking.

Wolthuis, A., and Blaak, M., (2001). Trafficking in children for sexual purposes from Eastern Europe to Western Europe. Retrieved 22 Nov. 2011 from

This is a special study that focuses on the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation within the European Union. The study not only focuses on the movement of children from Eastern to Western Europe but also described vulnerable groups at risk of trafficking.