Commercial sexual exploitation, whether children or adults, is something that all states in the world condemn. The sale of children, prostitution involving children, and child pornography as well as child sex tourism are some of the most prevalent issues affecting children across the world. Records show that one million children enter the multibillion-sex business every year. In these numbers, mostly the girls withstand the worst of the problem with a significant number of boys also being part of the issue. The risks that these children suffer are degrading and life-threatening at the same time.
Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography is a treaty that is keen on fighting the negative implication of the multi-billion dollar business of child sex tourism in the world (“Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography,” n.d.). This article takes cognizant of the convention that gives room for the rights of the child, and it dictates that all children should have protection against economic exploitation, protection from hazardous work, protection from any activity that is likely to interfere with their education or anything harmful. These harmful acts may influence their physical being, mental being, emotional being, social being, or even mental being (Farley & Kelly, 2000). Therefore, children require protection from the same to allow them to grow up into responsible adults. However, there is a concern over the rising cases of child trafficking leading to child prostitution and child pornography in the world today (Willis & Levy, 2002). Sex tourism directly promotes all the three ills as outlined above, the sale of children, child prostitution, as well as child pornography.
Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography is a treaty that takes note of the vulnerability of the girl children given the escalating sex tourism aspect in the world. These girls risk sexual exploitation and disproportionately suffer when it comes to sexual exploitation in comparison to their male counterparts. This treaty also has articles that speak against the availability of child pornography online on the internet and other evolving technologies. It emphasizes the criminalization of the production, distribution, importation, exportation, or even intentional possession of materials promoting child pornography as per the Vienna conference. The treaty further cements the call by the Vienna conference for a closer working relationship between the state authorities and various internet site providers. The treaty actually advocates for elimination of sale of children around the world. It goes further to address the issue of a holistic approach towards the elimination of the same, as well as the other issues that are prostitution and pornography. It, therefore, calls for state parties to address key underlying factors such as poverty, poor development, disparities in economic development, and socio-economic structures without equity. This treaty also directs state parties to deal with dysfunctional families, discrimination subject to gender, lack of education, migration from the rural to urban areas, irresponsibility in sexual behavior, poor traditional practices, and conflicts that may be armed in nature, as well as trafficking of children (“Optional Protocol To The Convention On The Rights Of The Child On The Sale Of Children, Child Prostitution And Child Pornography,” n.d.). The treaty thus states that unless the key underlying issues are no more, it will be a tall order trying to handle the issues of child sale, children prostitution, and children pornography.
The articles of this treaty actually dictate the need for public awareness to reduce the consumption as well as the purchase of children, their prostitution, and at the same time, child prostitution. The treaty not only raises public awareness but also calls for the strengthening of the national law enforcement systems and all the partnership between all actors in the children sector both from the local and international level (Handbook on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, 2009). The protocol also makes use of all international legal instruments, which are for children protection across the world. Some of these international legal instruments include the International Labor Organization Convention, which prohibits and calls for immediate action against any activities that encourage any form of child labor. The convention also relies heavily on the international community’s overwhelming support towards the convention on the rights of the child (Detrick, 1999). This serves to show the widespread support that exists across the board towards children rights; thus becoming a riding factor that would help to deal with the sale, prostitution, and the pornography in children across the globe.
This protocol, therefore, defines various offenses, which are the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. It also obligates the governments to ensure they criminalize the offenses, and at the same time, arrest all offenders breaking the set laws. The protocol goes ahead not to only punish the people selling the children for the purposes of exploiting them sexually or selling their organs or forcing them into labor but also those who are in the business of accepting the said activities. This treaty and protocol calls for all in authority to consider the best interest of the child in all contexts including in the criminal system.
- Detrick, S. (1999). A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
- Farley, M., & Kelly, V. (2000). Prostitution: A critical review of the medical and social sciences literature. Women & Criminal Justice, 11(4), 29-64.
- Optional Protocol To The Convention On The Rights Of The Child On The Sale Of Children, Child Prostitution And Child Pornography. Volume 2171, A-27531
- Handbook on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. (2009). Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
- Willis, B. M., & Levy, B. S. (2002). Child prostitution: global health burden, research needs, and
- interventions. The Lancet, 359(9315), 1417-1422.