2 0 1 1 T RA FF I C K IN G IN P ER S ON S RE P OR T 20
Identifying local demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children From Brazil to Cambodia, anti-trafficking experts and advocates have attempted for years to gain a better understanding of demand sources for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In countries where this crime is prevalent such as Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, India, Brazil, Jamaica, and Kenya, popular perception attributes the main source of demand to foreign and predominantly Western child sex tourists. In Cambodia, for example, the media focus on sex crimes committed by foreigners, leading to a misconception that there are fewer local offenders. Such a perception leads to a disproportionate focus on addressing the issue of child sex tourism as opposed to the equally significant issue of child prostitution. In a 2010 study conducted by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) in Cambodia, all but one of 43 prostituted children surveyed in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh said their regular purchasers were Cambodian men. Of the 13 prostituted children who reported having been sold as a virgin, eight said their rapists had been Cambodian. A recent UNICEF study found that in Kenya, it is Kenyans who make up the majority of purchasers of children in prostitution. A 2008 ILO study found that there was widespread local tolerance in Central America and the Dominican Republic for the commercial sexual exploitation of teenage girls. Sixty percent of the surveyâ€™s respondents attributed responsibility for the crime to the victim or the victimâ€™s family, rather than to the purchaser. Law enforcement responses to the commercial sexual exploitation of children often ref lect popular perception, leading to a lack of efforts to focus on local demand for child prostitution. In a few parts of the world, however, law enforcement actions are starting to ref lect the realities of local demand. In Cambodia, a country where numerous foreign pedophiles have been prosecuted locally or extradited for prosecution in the United States and elsewhere, law enforcement officials are beginning to recognize the need to improve on this record. In Central and South America, law enforcement statistics already show that many trafficking-related convictions involve cases of local demand for child prostitution. While foreign sex tourists are still a source of demand for child prostitution and must be held accountable, they are often not the main source. Governments must ensure that in targeting sex tourists, they are not also ignoring sources of local demand.