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Thematic reports

A/HRC/49/51: A practical approach to addressing the sale and sexual exploitation of children


10 January 2022

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Sexual exploitation of children


In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, Mama Fatima Singhateh, presents a practical approach to addressing the sale and sexual exploitation of children by providing a set of concrete measures and good practices, collected from across the world, to tackle the sale of children for the purpose of child marriage and the sexual exploitation of children in prostitution, in the context of travel and tourism, and online. The report refers to prevention, protection and rehabilitation services, and there is a checklist on the Special Rapporteur’s website for States and other stakeholders to use as a concrete and user-friendly tool in their work to prevent these forms of sale and sexual exploitation, to protect children and provide adequate services to child victims and survivors.

Key findings and recommendations

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

On prevention, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States and other stakeholders:

  1. Work together to scale up prevention measures and guarantee that those measures reach even the most remote regions and have a positive impact on the lives of all children, including the most disadvantaged;
  2. Encourage strong community involvement in processes to develop viable alternatives for affected children and families, in order to ensure long-term solutions that directly involve girls and women, boys and men in moving towards sustainable change, including by enhancing knowledge of the real societal costs of child marriage and the sale and trafficking of children for sexual exploitation, and on the lasting benefits of education and life-skills training;
  3. Include comprehensive and compulsory sexual education and online safety education in national education curricula, not only in formal school education but also in informal education initiatives, to make sure that every child develops knowledge about such issues and builds resilience;
  4. Use new technologies to reach children with targeted, age-appropriate key messages, enabling them to readily seek support and assistance and to increase the existence and availability of helplines and hotlines, which can help detect cases and refer them to the right services or authorities.

On protection, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States and other stakeholders:

  1. Promote and support the adoption of a child protection policy in all public and private sectors and entities working with, for, or in contact with children, to ensure that every staff member is informed and aware of how children should be treated, what their rights are and what to do in case of a suspected case of inappropriate sexual conduct. That should include the travel and tourism sector and the technology industry; (A/HRC/49/51)
  2. Make further efforts to guarantee that all adults who work with and for children, or who come into contact with children through their work, are adequately and regularly trained to protect children and detect suspected cases of sale, trafficking and sexual exploitation, including in rural areas, where there is often more limited knowledge about child protection issues;
  3. Focus development aid and international support on sustainable solutions, including for instance train-the-trainer initiatives, rather than targeted training of a limited number of professionals or projects focusing on supporting community engagement and local initiatives, and rather than top-down, fixed-term interventions that risk leaving significant gaps as soon as they are finished;
  4. Promote and support meaningful child participation at all levels and take children’s voices into account in decision-making processes that concern them, including with regard to services for child victims of sale and sexual exploitation, in order to make sure that the measures and strategies adopted respond to their needs and serve their best interests.

On rehabilitation, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States and other stakeholders:

  1. Take a more sustainable perspective in regard to justice and rehabilitation services by allocating resources for child victims as part of the yearly budget of States, in order to ensure that no child is left behind and that concrete and practical measures and services not only exist but are freely available and accessible to all children, independent of their socioeconomic situation and of where in the country they live;
  2. Avoid the secondary victimization of children within the very system that should be there to help them, by guaranteeing a child-friendly and trauma-informed lens in regard to justice, support and rehabilitation of child victims of sale and sexual exploitation;
  3. Consider children as agents of change and focus rehabilitation services for child victims not only on psychosocial support but also invest in empowering them with adequate education, life skills and vocational skills so that they can reintegrate into society and contribute to building their own futures, sustain themselves and share information and knowledge in their own communities.

Issued By:

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

Delivered To:

the Human Rights Council at its 49th session