The Author of this blog is Ms. Charulata Singh, Student, Chanakya National Law University, Patna, Bihar  

“When prostitution reaches its sickest, most depraved form, it becomes child prostitution.”

                                                                                                            ― Wess Stafford

Prostitution, is the practice of engaging in relatively indiscriminate sexual activity, in general with someone who is not a spouse or a friend, in exchange for immediate payment in money or other valuables.[1] In today's socially protected society, there are increasingly single people who need only sporadic contacts with others, some of whom prefer to use the service in the sexual sphere.[2]

Child prostitution has emerged in recent years as a global phenomenon of disquieting proportions. It is found in both developing and developed countries, although the numbers loom larger in the case of the former. Despite attempts to counter the situation, it remains daunting and intractable. In various parts of the world, the situation is deteriorating. The sexual exploitation of children has become more insidious because of its transfrontier nature. Children are increasingly sold and trafficked across frontiers -- between developing and developed countries, among developing countries, and among developed countries. The spread of child prostitution worldwide is part and parcel of the less positive aspects of globalization, and all continents of the globe deserve attention.

According to the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the term "child" generally encompasses a person under 18 years of age. A definition of child prostitution, derived from the 1990-94 reports of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, can be given as follows: ...the sexual exploitation of a child for remuneration in cash or in kind, usually but not always organized by an intermediary (parent, family member, procurer, teacher, etc.).[3]

The number of child victims trafficked worldwide for sexual exploitation or cheap labour on an annual basis is 1.2 million.1 Human trafficking, the third largest international crime, following illegal drugs and arms trafficking, is believed to be worth billions of dollars each year. Driving the trade is the demand for commercial sexual exploitation. Seventy-nine per cent of all global trafficking is for sexual exploitation.[4]


Prostitution is a contentious issue in India. Although, prostitution (exchanging sex for money) is not illegal, but the surrounding activities (operating brothels, pimping, soliciting sex etc.) are illegal.[5] Societies in which prostitution is legal have concluded that it is best to regulate a profession, which will never disappear. India should learn from these societies, rather than pretend that prostitution doesn't exist here. Especially when figures reveal that the business of sex-workers takes a dip when it is vacation time for colleges. There are over 2.5 million prostitutes in India and a quarter of them are minors! Child prostitution is one of the issues facing our country today.[6]

The factors that push children into sexual exploitation are numerous for example: economic disparities, inequitable socio-economic structure, family disintegration, harmful traditional and religious practices which undermines fulfilment of the basic rights of children.[7]

In 1998, it was estimated that 60% of prostitutes were underage.[8] Reuters estimates that thousands of Indian children are trafficked into prostitution each year.[9] In 2009, the Central Bureau of Investigation estimated that more than 1 million Indian children were engaged in prostitution.[10] About 15% of the prostitutes in Mumbai (Bombay), Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Bangalore are children. It is estimated that 30%of the prostitutes in these six cities are under 20 years of age. Nearly half of them became commercial sex workers when they were minors. Conservative estimates state that around 300 000 children in India are suffering commercial sexual abuse, which includes working in pornography.

The problem of child prostitution in India is more complicated than in other Third World countries where it is directly related to sex tourism. In India, sexual exploitation of children has its roots in traditional practices, beliefs and gender discrimination. According to some research, child prostitution is socially acceptable in some sections of Indian society through the practice of Devdasi. Young girls are given to the 'gods' and they become a religious prostitute. There are believed to be around 3 300 devdasis in Belguam area alone. Devdasi is banned by the Prohibition of Dedication Act of 1982. Parents or guardians dedicating their girls are liable to five years in jail and a Rs.5 000 (approximately £71) fine.[11]

Approximately 150,000 women and children are trafficked from South Asia every year and most of them from, via and to India.[12] Trafficking in children for commercial sexual exploitation is one of the primary manifestations of commercial sexual exploitation of children in India, which exists on a large scale and in many forms.[13] Children from drought-prone areas and places affected by natural or human-made disasters are also more likely to fall prey to traffickers.[14] The NHRC estimates that almost half of the children trafficked within India are between the ages of 11 and 14; they are subjected to physical and sexual abuse and kept in conditions similar to slavery and bondage.[15]

Children are trafficked to and from states such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal. For instance, among the 23 districts of the State of Andhra Pradesh, 16 are identified as sending districts. Similarly, in the State of Bihar, 24 out of 37 districts are highly affected by trafficking in women and children.[16] Rajasthan is also a major source State, where 27 out of 32 districts are found to be affected.[17]


Despite India having passed a specific law on sexual offences against children – Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO, 2012), and number of POCSO cases rising across the country indicating that more and more cases of child sexual abuse getting reported and offenders getting prosecuted, the number of cases of ‘men/ women who sexually exploit children for a payment (child prostitution) remains abysmally low.[18]

Some laws dealing with the situation are hereby mentioned. Under the constitution, Article 23 deals with prohibition of trafficking in human beings, forced labour and all forms of exploitation.  The Indian Penal Code lends a helping hand to the special laws enacted to curb prostitution by attacking the source of this evil. Section 366A makes procreation of a minor girl from one part of place to another is punishable and section 366B, which makes importation of a girl below the age of 21 years are punishable. Section 372 and 373 makes selling and buying of minor girls for the purpose of prostitution, a crime for which even 10 years of imprisonment and fine can be awarded. Section 9 of this Act provides greater punishment to persons who cause, aid or abet the seduction of women and girls, over whom they have authority or who are in their care and custody for prostitution. To prevent indecent representation of women in numerous forms, Parliament passed the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.[19]

Children from Bangladesh and Nepal are trafficked into India and through India to Pakistan and the Middle East. Though the exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked into India for sexual exploitation every year.[20]


Child prostitution is that form of human rights abuse that is frequently avoided by the open eye. It isn't simply restricted to developing countries, child prostitution is a worldwide issue and furthermore a considerable global issue that still can't seem to get fitting clinical and general wellbeing consideration. These children seldom have the intent to undertake these services but instead rather are deceived or baited into the business. The youngsters face awful mental and physical maltreatment in the business. Some are fortunate enough to get away, while others are not. The statistics are terrifying and require immediate considerations. A step towards not just recognizing the problem but eradicating it, is needed to be taken with utmost efficacy.


[1] John Philip Jenkins, Prostitution, available at: (Visited on August 17, 2020).

[2] Breslavs Gershons, “To reconstruction of the historical background and nature of the prostitution and adultery” 2 SIJ 525 (2018).

[3]US Department of Labor, “Forced labor: The prostitution of children” ILR (1996).

[4] UNODC, UNODC report on human trafficking exposes modern form of slavery, available at: (Visited on August 17, 2020).

[5] Sex Workers in India, available at:, (Last Modified January 11, 2018).

[6] An Essay: Legalising Prostitution in India, available at: (Visited on August 18, 2020).

[7] Artsjabs, A legal framework about Child Prostitution, available at:, (Visited on August 18, 2020).

[8] Debabrata, R., "When police act as pimps: glimpses into child prostitution in India". Manushi (105): 27–31 (1998).

[9] Anuradha Nagaraj, Rescued child sex workers in India reveal hidden cells in brothels, available at: (Last Modified December 13, 2017).

[10] Official: More than 1M child prostitutes in India, available at : (Last Modified May 11, 2009).

[11] Child Prostitution in India, available at: (Visited on August 20, 2020).

[12] Asian Development Bank, “Combating Trafficking of Women and Children in South Asia: Regional Synthesis Paper for Bangladesh, India and Nepal”, Manila (2002).

[13] ECPAT International, “Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children – India, Bangkok, Thailand” (2006).

[14] NHRC, “Action Research Study” (2005).

[15] Institute of Social Sciences, National Human Rights Commission, UNIFEM, A Report on the Trafficking of Women & Children in India 2002-2003, available at: (Visited on August 22, 2020).

[16] Vahini, Sakti, Trafficking Report (2004).

[17] Sex Trafficking of Children in India, available at: (Visited on August 24, 2020).

[18] Qrius, Impunity of ‘Customers’ of Child Prostitution, available at: (Last Modified April 29, 2020).

[19] Artsjabs, A Legal framework about Child Prostitution, available at: (Visited on August 24, 2020).

[20] Terre des Hommes, “Summary of Findings – Slavery, Debt Bondage and Sex Work: A Study of Trafficked Nepalese Girls and Women in Mumbai & Kolkata, India”, (2006).