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Laws Of Child Prostitution In India – Sritical Evaluation

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Child prostitution is a form of sexual abuse involving the commercial sexual exploitation of children in which a child performs sexual acts in exchange for some form of payment. Most countries have strict laws surrounding the sexual exploitation of children and so many customers engage in what is known as child sex tourism, travelling to foreign countries to evade the laws within their home country. Technology has also allowed children to be prostituted over the internet, increasing the rates of child pornography and human trafficking across the globe. Child prostitution is rarely a personal choice and is generally a form of organized crime run by an individual pimp or, more commonly, by a large-scale sex ring.


Child sex tourism (CST) is tourism for the purpose of engaging in the prostitution of children, which is commercially facilitated child sexual abuse. ... The children who perform as prostitutes in the child sex tourism trade often have been lured or abducted into sexual slavery.


Child sexual abuse is a global problem across all societies, civilized and uncivilized though its nature and enormity differ from society to society. Child abuse occurs in secrecy. Most of the times, it becomes a conspiracy in silence.

Child abuse is a violation of the basic human rights of child. It infringes the fundamental and constitutional rights of a child. It is a crime not only against the child victim and his/her family but also against the society at large.

Primarily and most importantly, child sexual abuse involves a breach of trust or an exploitation of vulnerability, and frequently both. Abused child is emotionally isolated. The abuser forces the child to keep the act a secret. If the abuser is a family member, the child not only loses trust in the family but also worries about what would happen to the family if the secret is disclosed. The burden of the secrecy can be carried into adolescence. Carrying a secret, and the abuse itself, can make the abused child feel different and apart from others, not like a normal person.

However, child abuse is often overlooked by family, authorities and society. Even the educated class of society is skeptical about reporting a case child sexual abuse. A self revealed victim becomes an object of insult and blame! Most of the child sexual abuses thus go unreported. The child victims often resist to report the abuse apprehending the anger of offender and judgemental behavior of the society. The societal attitude itself, on the one hand, encourages the offenders to repeat the abuse and, on the other hand, discourages the child to disclose the abuse.

There is also a considerable overlap between physical, emotional and sexual abuse and children who are subject to one form of abuse are significantly more likely to suffer other forms of abuse.


Parents, grandparents, and guardians should be aware of the signs that could indicate that the child has been sexually abused.It should be noted that some of these behaviours may have other explanations, but it is important to assist the child no matter what the cause of these symptoms or behaviours.

  • Changes in behaviour, extreme mood swings, isolation or withdrawal, uncharacteristic anger, tearfulness, and excessive crying.
  • Disclosure by child (very rare).
  • Physical evidence (very rare).
  • Excessive masturbation.
  • Age inappropriate, knowledge of sex.
  • Constantly talks about sex.
  • Acting out inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters even with other children.
  • Venereal disease.
  • Constant vaginal discharge.
  • Bleeding in vagina or anus.
  • A sudden acting out of feelings or aggressive or rebellious behaviour.
  • Regression to infantile behaviour; clinging.
  • School or behavioural problems.
  • Changes in toilet-training habits.
  • Bed-wetting & soiling, nightmares, fear of going to bed, or other sleep disturbances.
  • A fear of certain places like bathroom, people, or activities.
  • Bruises, rashes, cuts, limping, multiple or poorly explained injuries.
  • Pain, itching, bleeding, fluid, or rawness in the private areas.
  • Nightmares.
  • Sleeps too much or too little.
  • Difficulty walking or sitting.


The magnitude of the problem of child sexual abuse is highly complicate. Child sexual abuse has a number of effects physical as well as psychological. It imposes both short term and long term consequences. Its impact is cast on abused child, perpetrator and community. The major victim, however, is the abused child.

  • Health Problems: Child abuse, in itself, is an important public health issue. An abused child develops frequent unexplained health problems. It has serious future consequences for its victims, including delays in physical growth. The female victims of commercial sexual exploitation face early teenage pregnancy and associated problems. The victims of sexual abuse contract sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV/ AIDS.
  • Physical Harm: Sexual abuse imposes severe physical harm to the child. Sexual mutilation, neurological damage and damage to organs especially to sex organs are rampant in child sexual abuse cases. Even death of the child can be caused in a forced sexual abuse where high degree of physical force is exercised.
  • Psychological harm: Though not apparent initially, the severe impact of sexual abuse on a child is the psychological impact. Impact of sexual abuse on mental health of children is far reaching. Psychiatric disorders are common amongst the child victims of sexual offences. Child sexual abuse is a central cause of mental health problems in adult life and a potent cause of adult psychopathology. It causes severe impact on interpersonal, social behaviour and sexual functioning in adult life. The exposure of children to the sexual advances of adults places the victim at high risk of later sexual problems. In the later stage, the abused child starts finding solace in drug and alcohol. Child sexual abuse plays a crucial role in lowering self esteem and imposing pessimism and fatalism in child. Pedophilia leaves psychosexual disorder with profound implications for the abused child, perpetrator and community.
  • Family Dysfunction: An abused child exhibits problems in personality development, learning skills and behaviour. The child’s behaviour can create disturbance in stable family relations. The abused children contribute to family dysfunction. They unusually express aggressive behaviour towards family members, friends and objects.
  • Chronic Depression: Chronic depression: Consequences of child sexual abuse range from chronic depression to low self-esteem to sexual dysfunction to multiple personalities. According to AMA,1/5 of all Victims develop serious long term psychological problems. These may include dissociative responses and other signs of post-traumatic-stress syndrome chronic states of arousal, phobias, nightmares, flashbacks, unusual fear, persistent sexual play with friends or pets, venereal disease and anxiety over sex or exposure of the body during medical exams.In the trauma, they also engage in self mutilations, such as injuring or hurting themselves. Multiple personality disorders,depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders are common among child victims of sexual abuse.33 Self dislike, self- destruction, guilty feeling, punishment feeling, loss of pleasure - sadness, unwanted self-criticism, feeling of powerlessness, irritability are common among child victims of sexual abuse.
  • Criminalization: The victims are often inadequately protected by the law and in many cases unfortunately treated as criminals. On the other hand, abused children are most likely to become criminal offender as adults.
  • Relationship Problem: Sexually abused children not only face an assault on their sexual identity, but a blow their impression of the world as a safe enough environment to live in. In those abused by close kin or someone with whom they had a close relationship, the impact is likely to be all the more profound. The experience of child sexual abuse deposits in the child a specific deficit in forming and maintain intimate relationships


The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was brought in as late as 2012. As the name suggests, the statute lays down laws exclusively for protection of children. It defines penetrative sexual assault and sexual assault against children, and also provides for definition and punishment for sexual harassment of children. As per the law, sexual assault of a child is punished with maximum of five years, penetrative sexual assault is punished with up to 10 years, and sexually harassing a child lands one behind bars for three years.

Experts, however say that POSCO in its five years of existence, has failed to act as a deterrent for crimes against children.Among several measures, lawyers, activists and the citizens have been demanding capital punishment for those convicted of sexually assaulting children. Advocating this strongly is Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal, who has been urging the government to introduce a time-bound penalty for convicts of child sexual abuse.

“A 11-month-old baby was recently operated after being raped. What is the magic stick to change the mindset of individuals who commit such crimes? It’s fear. We need immediate relief. Within six months of the crime committed, award them with death penalty,” Maliwal told

It is in common knowledge that child sexual abuse happens more than the reported cases. Maliwal says “three rapes happen everyday in the capital”. “There were 31,446 FIRs by women and children between 2012 and 2014.”

The provision for capital punishment exists in India only in the “rarest of rare cases” as laid down by the Supreme Court in 1980 and in Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab, 1983, section 303 (punishment for murder by a convict sentenced for life imprisonment was punishable by death) of the Indian Penal Code was struck down by the top court.

Although no law any longer under the Indian criminal statutes exclusively states a death penalty, many provisions under the criminal law provide for capital punishment along with other forms of punishment for crimes like waging a war against the government, murder, attempt to murder, abetment of suicide of a child or insane person, dacoity with murder and kidnapping for ransom.

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Unlike Maliwal demand for capital punishment, there are many who are instead in favour of strengthening of the legal system. Some also believe capital punishment should be awarded to repeat offenders or as per the law laid down in 1980.

Rejecting death penalty as the only deterrent, Kaushik Gupta, a lawyer in Kolkata High Court, said: “Punishment is itself a deterrent. Our focus should be on prevention.”

For the past several years, activists have been requesting for exclusive/special courts for children. A well-known fact is that Indian courts have massive backlog of cases that include child sexual abuse cases as well.

Lawyer and activist at Bachpan Bachao Andolan Bhuwan Ribhu explained the urgent need of exclusive courts by providing clarity with numbers, “It will take 55 years to clean the backlog in Gujarat and 47 years in Kerala,”

He underlined the need for child-friendly police stations and better medical facilities for child victims, and criticised the lack of structural and infrastructural establishments like a forensic laboratory. “It takes three years to get a forensic report of a victim,”

Stressing on reasons of unreported cases, former IPS officer Dr P M Nair says the interiors of India like tribal villages in Chhattisgarh have poor accessibility to police and law enforcement agencies and there are many such places in India where mostly the cases are unreported.

Another reason for such unreported cases is the lengthy legal course in India. “It’s a vicious circle. Citizens rights have taken a backseat,” After filing an FIR, the process of investigation by the police needs to be refined. Trained and skilled investigative officers and prosecutors are required for a case to move forward swiftly. “One must Listen to the victim. Invest in him/her.”

Talking about the underlying problem of Indian society, “There’s no understanding about sexuality in our country. No conversations about this takes place with children and adolescents. There has to be a dialogue at primary and secondary education level.


Prevention: Abuse of children in whatsoever means is not justifiable. It is sheer violation of their basic human rights. The upbringing of children in a healthy environment, both physically and mentally, is the first step towards a prosperous world tomorrow. Child friendly environment must strictly be maintained in homes and schools. Prevention of abuse is better than victimizing the child. With proper care and precautions sexual offences against children can be prevented to a great extent. Concerted action, including from civil society, needs to be taken to protect the children from possible sexual abuse.

Raising Awareness: Awareness must be created from the grass root levels- to parents, elders, teachers and to the society at large. Today’s children can also comprehend the situation. Parents and Teachers should educate children about appropriate sexual behaviour and how to say “no” and resist.

Parent- child attachment: The parents should maintain a strong attachment towards their children. The children should feel secure at home. The children must have the freedom to share all their experiences with the parents. The parents must devote time to listen to the children, clarify doubts, remove ambiguities and solve their problems. The parents should win the children’s confidence and trust. This would help the children to report fearlessly the abuse.

Recovery and reintegration of the victim: The government and all other actors should join hands to ensure early recovery of the victim. Counseling and psychiatric treatment should be given to the abused child. The victim should not be isolated from the mainstream of the society. All measures must be taken to ensure that the victim lead a normal life. The government must take measures to educate, rehabilitate and integrate the victims.

Treatment: With early detection and appropriate treatment, society can prevent some victimized children from becoming adult perpetrators. Physical as well as mental treatment must be ensured to the victim taking into consideration the type of abuse experienced, the duration of abuse, the degree of interpersonal support available , the personality of the individual and the resulting psychiatric condition that arose.

Means of subsistence: Initiatives are also needed to reduce the number of children getting into sex trade by giving them alternative methods of subsistence. There is a need to develop alternative means of livelihoods for victims and their families. Protection, prevention and rehabilitation must be seen as part of the community’s responsibility

Legal measures: Law pertaining to sexual exploitation of children and its enforcement must be strengthened. The law must be made most stringent in child abuse cases generally and in child abuse cases particularly. Legal proceedings and procedures must be child centered and child friendly ensuring the privacy and dignity of the child. There must be enhanced punishment in cases of subsequent offences. Urgent measures need to be taken in the field of law enforcement. Law enforcement officials, judges, lawyers and prosecutors require special training to handle the child abuse cases in a special manner. Creation and distribution of images of child pornography in whatsoever manner should be criminalised and liability should also be attached to intermediaries. Victim children must be regarded as credible witness. The perpetrators must be punished even at the sole of testimony of the victim


Child prostitution is the ultimate denial of the rights of the child. Child prostitution is a common problem in many countries of the world. In this practice, the children engage in sexual activity for monetary gain especially by the adults who either are their parents or their caretakers. Some children enter into prostitution due to the hard situations they face while others are sold into sexual servitude by their parents either consciously or unconsciously. Child prostitution in foreign countries is also a common practice. People do this through sex tourism and child trafficking. Most people practice child prostitution in foreign countries either because they want to avoid the laws of their countries by breaking law in foreign countries or because they misunderstand the people of the countries that they visit. Child prostitution is a multi billion business in the world that leads to wastage of many children's lives. In some countries, cultural practices contribute to the involvement of children in prostitution. Large and small criminal groups arrange for Transboundary transfer of children and clients involved in child prostitution. Even though many human rights groups are against this immoral behaviour, some governments have not fully committed themselves to eradicating this problem from their countries. Still there is much demand of foreign children for sex in some countries making the business of child trafficking and sex tourism to flourish. In whichever the case, children prostitution is a criminal offence and all people and especially governments need to fight to eradicate this problem from the society.

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Laws Of Child Prostitution In India – Sritical Evaluation. (2021, August 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
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