Prostitution of Children and Child Prostitutes

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PROSTITUTION
Prostitution is defined as the act, practice or profession of offering the body for sexual relations for money. (New Webster’s Dictionary 1995:802). The Encyclopedia Americana (1997) defined prostitution as “the performance of sexual acts with another person in return for the payment of a fee.” Child prostitution is therefore, prostitution embarked upon by children who are below the age of 18 and are supposed to be catered for by their parents. It is commonly acknowledged that acts of prostitution are performed by women for men nevertheless occasions arise when the acts are done by men for men. The context of this work deals particularly with female child prostitution. UNICEF considers child prostitutes as young girls in sex trade, who are between the age bracket of 8 and 16. (Jubilee Action Report 1995). In the Nigerian milieu, prostitutes below the age of 18 are regarded as child prostitutes, since only persons above 18 years of age are statutorily regarded as adults. Child prostitution is the “sexual exploitation of girls and teenagers” (Awake February 8, 2003:6). Available data show that approximately 1.5million children in India, 1 million in Asia, 100,00 children in United States and 500 children in Latin America are engaged in prostitution (Healy, 1995:35). Awake (February 8,2003:2) reported,“there were about 300,000 child prostitutes on the streets, in another land where drug trafficking flourishes”. According to Jubilee Action report (1995:10), up to 1 million female children join prostitution each year around the globe. However, the clandestine nature of child prostitution makes it impossible to calculate the exact number of working prostitutes, nonetheless the International Labour Organization (ILO) analysis (1993-1994), estimates that between 0.25% and 1.5% of the total female population are engaged in this trade. Globally, child prostitution is illegal and it is also regarded as a barbarous crime, yet it persists. Why? Child prostitution does not just happen. It is caused by a variety of factors some are perpetrated by the prostitutes themselves, while other factors are external to the prostitutes themselves. This is really a growing problem in developed world and developing world like Nigeria (Quintanilla, 1997:20).

CAUSES OF CHILD PROSTITUTION IN Owerri Municipal Council
1. Misery and POVERTY: Poverty is the most common reason why most families sell the services of their female children to augment their income in order to buy food or clothes and other necessities of life. (Janssen, 2001:10). The case of child labour is a typical factor that exposes children to prostitution. The hired female children are sent out to hawk food items on the streets, motor parks, and mechanic garages thereby exposing them to rapes as well as sexual harassment s. Barnes H.C. (1959:95) observed that some females take to prostitution due to sheer destitution. Awake (February 8,2003:5) reported that some street children resort to prostitution because they see it as their only means of survival. The Awake further related an experience of a mother of 14-year-old girl who lured her daughter into this ignominious trade. The woman said about her daughter, “she was beautiful and that men would like her very much. Besides, she would earn a lot of money.” In the evenings, the woman takes her daughter to a motel where they make contacts. The mother stays nearby to receive the payments. Each night, this girl has sex with three or four men. 2. UNEMPLOYMENT:

Unemployment of either the parents or the child results in unreliable source of income thereby forcing children into prostitution as an alternative means of income to support the family. Ironically, the International Labour Organization observes that a child’s ability to earn money is limited. It is estimated that the money earned by the child only contributes to approximately 10% of the family’s overall income and therefore has minimal effect on the family’s monetary...
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