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Thematic reports

A/76/144: Gender dimension of the sexual exploitation of children and the importance of integrating a child-centred and gender-inclusive approach to combating and eradicating it


19 July 2021

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Sexual exploitation of children


In the present report, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 73/155, the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, presents a thematic study on the gender dimension of the sexual exploitation of children and the importance of integrating a child-centred and gender-inclusive approach to combating and eradicating the scourge. Information on the activities undertaken by the Special Rapporteur during the period from August 2020 to June 2021 can be found on the Special Rapporteur’s webpage.

Key findings and recommendations

The following recommendations were suggested in the report for States and other stakeholders to consider;

The Special Rapporteur calls on States to accelerate efforts towards achieving gender-inclusive child protection systems which protect and empower children with their own unique developing personalities and characteristics as rights holders with agency.

Raise awareness

In order to eradicate the sexual exploitation of children in all its forms, there is a need to promote gender awareness and knowledge across society and among all ages, including through sexual education, and to make sure that the importance of a gender-sensitive approach as a prevention measure against child sexual exploitation is understood and recognized across all layers of society.

Provide specialized training

It is imperative that professionals are adequately trained to recognize and avoid gender stereotypes (including unconscious bias) and that their capacity is built and strengthened to develop gender-inclusive and gender-sensitive strategies for the detection, identification, reporting, treatment and support to victims of child sexual exploitation.

Strengthen legal and policy frameworks

There is a need to make sure that legal and policy frameworks relating to children’s rights and child protection are, at the very least, gender neutral. While gender-neutral legal and policy frameworks are certainly better than explicitly gender-biased ones, gender-neutrality may not adequately uphold the rights of all children to protection from sexual exploitation. States are encouraged to consider integrating into law and practice a gender-inclusive framework for positive action to ensure that children who identify outside the gender binary do not suffer from gender-based discrimination. This includes reviewing laws which define typically gendered crimes, such as rape, being only against girls and women.

Promote an inclusive understanding of gender

There is a need to integrate into policy and practice the knowledge that “gender” is not equal to “female” only but has a broader meaning and that, for the purpose of protecting children from sexual exploitation, gender and gender identity must be understood in a broader and more inclusive manner, one which adequately takes into account the vulnerability of boys and children who identify outside the gender binary and the existing barriers preventing them from disclosing sexual exploitation.

Address gender and underlying factors

There is a need to consider how underlying factors that contribute to child sexual exploitation are also affected by deeply rooted gender stereotypes and bias. In that sense, it is important to address gender stereotypes both as an underlying cause of sexual exploitation per se, and as a contributing factor that, together with other intersecting forms of discrimination, increases the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation.

Conduct research

Conducting research on the effects of sexual exploitation, including when it is facilitated by information and communication technology, on girls, boys and children who identify outside the gender binary, will help to inform specialized care, recovery and reintegration programmes with a gender perspective. Establishing reliable and integrated data collection and analysis disaggregated (both for victims and for offenders) by age, sex and gender, will promote effective and specialized child protection mechanisms.

Coordinate and cooperate among stakeholders

Coordination and cooperation among relevant stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels to support concrete actions to prevent and halt the sexual exploitation of children is important so as to address and tackle gender-driven demand, ensure rapid identification of victims and coordinated referral mechanisms, and provide child-friendly and gender-sensitive reporting and complaint mechanisms to report exploitative behaviour online and offline.

Issued By:

Special Rapporteur on the sale, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children

Delivered To:

the General Assembly at its 76th session