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UN expert calls for a “practical approach” to stop sale and sexual exploitation of children

09 March 2022

GENEVA - A UN human rights expert has called for concrete steps to stop the sale and sexual exploitation of children, and adopt a practical approach to effectively implement policies and laws designed to prevent the crimes and protect and rehabilitate victims.

"The limited application of legislative and policy initiatives represents perhaps the most significant challenge to addressing these crimes,” the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Mama Fatima Singhateh, said in a report presented to the Human Rights Council today.

“Across the world, a wealth of international and regional laws and strategies have been adopted, with the aim of protecting children from violence, including their sale and sexual exploitation. Despite all the efforts, incidences continue to increase, and many victims still do not receive adequate support.” 

To help States and other stakeholders in moving towards more effective implementation, Singhateh’s report provides concrete measures and good practices, 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. There is also a checklist on the Special Rapporteur’s web page, which can be developed further to provide guidance at the national level to ensure that all children can live free from sale and sexual exploitation.

“The examples provided in my report are not exhaustive but serve to illustrate the importance of concrete actions and encourage States to consider, inspire and support each other to better implement existing legal and policy principles for the protection of children from sale and sexual exploitation,” the expert said.

“It is crucial to continue investing in building awareness and sensitizing societies to prevent this scourge, and strong community-level engagement that will generate sustainable change.

“Seemingly small but concrete steps make a real difference in children’s lives. Today more than ever, we need practical, decisive action to prevent different forms of  sale and sexual exploitation of children, protect children and provide adequate services to child victims and survivors.”


Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh (The Gambia) was appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2020. She is a trained lawyer with over 20 years of experience. Ms Singhateh has held a number of high-level positions in public service in the Gambia. She holds a master’s degree in International Business Law from the University of Hull and has undergone numerous trainings in child rights programming, arbitration and mediation, and legislative drafting. She has drafted laws, organized and conducted numerous training sessions, delivered presentations at both national and international fora and written articles and reports on issues relating to the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Ms. Marina Narvaez (+ +41 22 917 96 15/ [email protected])or Ms. Antara Singh (+41 +41 22 917 93 28/ [email protected]).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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