Prostitution of children  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Prostitution of children refers to children having sexual intercourse for money. The definition of a "child prostitute" can vary depending on who is using the term. Under many laws a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18. The Optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography to the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that the prostitution of children or child prostitution is the practice whereby a child is used by others for sexual activities in return for remuneration or any other form of consideration. The remuneration or other consideration could be provided to the child or to another person.


Prostitution of children dates to antiquity. Prepubescent boys were commonly prostituted in brothels in ancient Greece and Rome. According to Ronald Flowers, the "most beautiful and highest born Egyptian maidens were forced into prostitution...and they continued as prostitutes until their first menstruation." Chinese and Indian children were commonly sold by their parents into prostitution. Parents in India sometimes dedicated their female children to the Hindu temples, where they became "devadasis". Traditionally a high status in society, the devadasis were originally tasked with maintaining and cleaning the temples of the Hindu deity to which they were assigned (usually the goddess Renuka) and learning skills such as music and dancing. However, as the system evolved, their role became that of a temple prostitute, and the girls, who were "dedicated" before puberty, were required to prostitute themselves to upper class men. The practice has since been outlawed but still exists.

In Europe, child prostitution flourished until the late 1800s; minors accounted for 50% of individuals involved in prostitution in Paris. A scandal in 19th-century England caused the government there to raise the age of consent. In July 1885, William Thomas Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, published "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon", four articles describing an extensive underground sex trafficking ring that reportedly sold children to adults. Stead's reports focused on a 13-year-old girl, Eliza Armstrong, who was sold for £5 (the equivalent of around £500 in 2012), then taken to a midwife to have her virginity verified. The age of consent was raised from 13 to 16 within a week of publication. During this period, the term white slavery came to be used throughout Europe and the United States to describe prostituted children.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Prostitution of children" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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