chapter  12
Preventing child sexual exploitation
Would an international age of consent to sexual activity help secure the welfare of children?
ByJenny Pearce
Pages 12

This chapter explores whether an international agreement on the age of consent to sexual activity would help to protect more children from sexual exploitation and promote global child welfare. It clarifies what people mean by child sexual exploitation (CSE), outlining global definitions, legislations and policies that aim to protect children from this form of abuse. The chapter explores some of the difficulties in identifying prevalence and knowledge about sexual violence against children overall, and CSE in particular. It links the need for better knowledge of the forms and nature of CSE to other 'international campaigns' developed on behalf of children, such as the movement to prevent female genital mutilation, and early and forced child marriage. The chapter also explores how the question of consent to sexual activity sits within understandings of childhood and in relationship to external contexts such as poverty, deprivation and questions of gender-based power dynamics. It explains how child sexual exploitation is a global child protection issue.