24th June 2020

Everything we need to know about child sexual exploitation

Fayola Maulida

“Children are our future,” they say. But throughout years, cases of child exploitation and child abuse are still occurring. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), defines that a child is a person under 18 years of age. Every child has 4 fundamental rights that stick to them, which are: the right to live, to grow and develop, to get protection, and to participate. However, it is still often seen that child trafficking, abuse, and exploitation are still prevalent in society.

Child trafficking and child exploitation are happening. Never imagine that this sort of problem only happens in rural areas or places that are beyond your reach. Because it could happen right at this moment, somewhere near you.

“What is child trafficking? What is child exploitation?” Perhaps both questions came to your mind. Indeed, it requires some time to comprehend it thoroughly and figure out why we should care about these issues. Child exploitation and trafficking are both related. In short, not every child has got four of their fundamental rights fulfilled. Not every child has the chance to choose or have choices. There are children out there being sold and forced to do things that will result in a great trauma to produce advantages for other people in many aspects, economically, socially, or politically. The ‘usage' of children for personal benefits that violate their physical and mental health, also bringing severe damaging impacts towards their education and personal development is how child exploitation is defined. Don’t underestimate these cases, they will leave a lifelong footprint along with children’s life.

One of the many ways a child can be exploited is in the form of sexual exploitation. UNICEF and WHO defines it as “Any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, power differences, or trust for sexual purposes, including but not limited to threatening, monetary, social or political profit from the sexual exploitation of others”. This covers cases where a person or a certain amount of people are getting profit from a child that is being used for sexual purposes. Sexual exploitation cases are not only happening offline but also online. Cited from KPAI (Indonesian Commission for Child’s Protection) from the year 2011-2016, there are 1809 cases of online child exploitation. Police data also stated that from 2016-2018 there are 1127 cases of sexual exploitation of children in which some parts of them are using digital media as their platform. According toECPAT Indonesia, there are 150 cases of child sexual exploitation in Indonesia with 28% of the reported cases made up from the act of child pornography.

Online child exploitation can be done through as sexting (exchange of sexual images or messages), grooming (seductive acts for sexual purposes), and streaming (online live stream of sexual abuse).

Child sexual exploitation has a long-term, seriously concerning impact on children’s mental and physical health, along with their individual development. Evidence has shown that sexual abuse can cause various problems such as self-harm, eating disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Sexual exploitation could happen to every child, yet perpetrators usually target ‘vulnerable’ children, for example, those who have trouble with their family, drugs or alcohol problems, and learning difficulties. Despite childhood being a golden period in human growth and development, abuse and exploitation will diminish children's opportunities to explore and express themselves.

Rumah Faye is concerned about how child exploitation and trafficking cases have increased and stands as an organization that focuses on our vision to free Indonesian kids from trafficking, abuse, and exploitation with three fundamental programs which are: prevention, rescue, and recovery. Prevention is a program where Rumah Faye will expand the community’s awareness regarding child trafficking, exploitation, and sexual violence. Rescue is Rumah Faye’s program to save children from child trafficking, sexual abuse, and exploitation through numerous external partnerships. Last of all, recovery is a program where Rumah Faye will provide a safe haven, including counseling, education, and life skills, for victims of child trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. With the execution of these programs, we hope the numbers of child exploitation, abuse, and trafficking will decrease.

There are many things we can do to contribute to stop sexual exploitation issues:

  • Educate yourself and make sure you understand the danger of child trafficking and abuse
  • For parents, teach your child sex education, reproductive health, and safe internet usefrom a young age so they can understand and be protected
  • Report to the authorities if you witness any child exploitation and abuse
  • Use social media as a platform to increase people’s awareness of issues regarding child exploitation and abuse
  • Donate to organizations that aim to stop child abuse.

Remember that the matter of child exploitation isn't a thing that can be solved in a day. It takes effort, courage, and action. However, each and every progression we make to attempt to stop these problems will consistently be valued. In this way, let’s battle these issues together for the sake of Indonesian children!

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