ECPAT International is a global network of organisations working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
A global problem
There are as many as 1.8 million children exploited in prostitution or pornography worldwide and human trafficking alone as an illegal industry generates billions of US dollars. It is believed that nearly 80% of all trafficking worldwide is for sexual exploitation, with over 20% of the victims children. All children have the right to live free from all forms of sexual exploitation. However, social tolerance to the sexual exploitation of children is increasing. There are millions of child sexual abuse images on the Internet, and that number is growing.
A global network
ECPAT works to build collaboration among local organisations and the broader child rights community to form a global social movement for protection of children from sexual exploitation. Its membership reflects the richness and diversity of experience, knowledge and perspectives that arise from working in widely different contexts. ECPAT groups are involved in implementation of various initiatives to protect children at local levels, while the Secretariat provides technical support, research and information. It also represents and advocates on key issues at the international and regional level on behalf of the network. ECPAT works towards the end of commercial sexual exploitation of children in four main ways:
End Child Prostitution
Child Prostitution occurs when someone benefits from a commercial transaction in which a child is made available for sexual purposes. Children are also involved in prostitution when they engage in sex in return for basic needs such as food, shelter or safety, or pocket money to purchase consumer goods. A child cannot consent to being prostituted and in all instances, abusers are exploiting the vulnerabilities of the child for their own gratification. ECPAT works towards the end of child prostitution.
End trafficking of children for sexual purposes
The trafficking of children for sexual purposes refers to the cross-border or internal, recruitment, transportation, harbouring, transfer or receipt of children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This crime happens in every country in the world and affects children from all walks of life. ECPAT works to stop child sex trafficking.
Child pornography means any representation of a child engaged in real or simulated sexual activities or any representation of a child for primarily sexual purposes. Since the rise of the Internet, the sheer scale of child pornography online has become overwhelming. ECPAT wants to eliminate child pornography and the exploitation of children online.
Child sex tourism occurs when an individual travels, either within their own country or internationally, and engages in sexual acts with a child. Some offenders engage in sexual acts with children out of experimentation often fuelled by opportunity or a feeling of anonymity as a result of being away from their home. ECPAT wants to eradicate the practice of child sex tourism.