The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Europe. Developments, progress, challenges, and recommended strategies for civil society
This overview addresses the complex factors underlying the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Europe – mainly in the 28 countries of the European Union (EU) – and describes and assesses measures being taken to counteract this severe violation of children’s rights. Finally, it presents strategies and recommendations for consideration by ECPAT and others to improve and intensify anti-CSEC activities in the region.
Countries in Eastern and Western Europe often experience CSEC differently; for example, those in the West are generally recipients of trafficked children, while those in the East are more often the source. But across the region there are clear signs that CSEC is increasing and evolving, particularly in relation to the use of modern technological tools to identify and exploit children and the reach of organised criminal networks. Dramatic political and economic changes following the dismemberment of the Soviet Union produced pockets of poverty and deprivation that create opportunities for those who exploit children. One result of economic inequalities is increased migration across (now easily traversed) borders; unaccompanied minors face special risks of sexual exploitation during the migration process and after arriving at their destination. Migration by parents has weakened family structures, again, leaving children vulnerable. Certain groups, particularly Roma children, children living on the street, young migrants and disabled children often face discrimination and marginalisation, and are especially vulnerable to all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.