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There is no such thing as a child prostitute

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There is No Such Thing as a child prostituteIt is essential that the media makes this clear.

We are very pleased to see that the Associated Press (AP) now recommends that its writers do not use the word ‘prostitute’ to refer to children or teenagers who are forced into sexual exploitation.

Campaigning on this issue has been carried out by the USA-based Human Rights Project for Girls (@Rights4Girls).

The Associated Press is one of the largest sources of independent newsgathering, has its headquarters in New York, and operates in more than 280 locations worldwide.

There is no such thing as a ‘child prostitute‘, a ‘teenage prostitute’ or an ‘underage sex worker‘.

It is always ‘an act of child sexual exploitation’, ‘abuse’ and ‘rape’ and it is essential that the media makes this clear, otherwise it serves only to support rape culture and those who profit from the abuse of children.

The No Such Thing campaign will continue to ask leading media outlets, such as The New York Times and USA Today, to stop using the term child prostitute to convey the condition of children being bought and sold for sex.

After a similar campaign in the UK, in 2015 Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, tabled amendments to the Serious Crime Bill to see the term ‘child prostitute’ removed from UK legislation.

Everyday Victim Blaming had campaigned to see the removal of the term from the UK government’s legislative language for several years.

The term ‘child prostitute’ suggests consent – that the child made an active, conscious choice to engage in sexual activity where payment is received for said activity.

It is quite clear that those using the term, particularly in the media and the reports into the systemic abuse of young girls in Rotherham, believe that children can consent to their own grooming and sexual exploitation.

But when the term ‘child prostitute’ is used, the perpetrators are erased.

There are multiple perpetrators involved in the sexual exploitation of children.

These perpetrators include the men who groom the child, the men who act as ‘pimps’ and those who purchase the body of a child for rape.

We need to focus on the perpetrators, not blame their victims.

Child sexual exploitation is endemic in the UK – it occurs in every single town and city in the country.

Terms which suggest that children can consent to their own sexual exploitation assist perpetrators in denying responsibility and blame children for their own exploitation. ‘Child prostitution’ is not a choice children make.

We need to clearly name the abuse – a ‘child raped by men who pay for this service’, ‘prostituted child’ or ‘child sexual exploitation’.

We need to stop using euphemistic language that results in the collusion of the rape of children.

For, as No Such Thing has said, while its campaign focuses on national media outlets in the USA, and uses social media to bring attention to the issue, the overall aim of the campaign is not circumscribed only to media circles.

Theirs is also a campaign to reshape the larger public narrative on child trafficking.

In the same way that the domestic violence movement renamed ‘hitting a woman’ as ‘abuse’, and not ‘a personal quarrel’, the campaign will name the trafficking of children as a form of child rape and abuse.

Paid sex with a minor is an unequivocal act of child rape.

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