Virgins command the highest price at clandestine auctions in Brazil. More than 300,000 Nepalese women have been shipped to India as sex slaves. Child prostitutes in Kenya are getting younger every year.
Around the world, sexual exploitation of women and children is increasing, and experts say a prime cause is exploding cities, which are generating greater poverty and homelessness.
Every year, an estimated 2 million prostitutes between the ages of 5 and 15 enter the sex market, said Lisbet Palme, head of the Swedish committee for the U.N. Children’s Fund. Palme is organizing a world congress on sexual exploitation of children in Stockholm in August.
“There are tens of millions of children in the sex market,” she said Thursday night during a panel discussion held in conjunction with the U.N. conference on cities, known as Habitat II.
Sexual exploitation is not just a Third World phenomenon, according to the experts. Not only are there child prostitutes on the streets of New York, but Americans, Europeans and wealthy Arabs are major customers.
Brazil, with an estimated 500,000 child and adolescent prostitutes, is a major destination for tourists seeking sex, especially German and Dutch men, said Thais Corral of Brazil’s Network in Defense of the Human Species.
Thursday’s panel addressed the question: “What Sustains the Market for Female Bodies?”
Corral cited poverty associated with rapid urban growth and migration to cities, which has led to family disintegration, and male machismo.