European Network Against Trafficking in Human Beings

New publication

Semantics or Substance? Towards a Shared Understanding of Terminology Referring to the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children

Document number
1218
Date
2005
Title
Semantics or Substance? Towards a Shared Understanding of Terminology Referring to the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Author/publisher
Subgroup Against the Exploitation of Children, UN NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Availability
View/save PDF version of this document
Document type(s)
Research/Study/Analysis, Training Material/Resources,
Keywords
Child Trafficking, Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, Best Interests Principle, Child Victims of Trafficking, Separated Migrant Children, Unaccompanied minors, Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Child protection systems,
Summary
This publication aims to "highlight the confusion around" terms used in discussion of child abuse and exploitation. The authors argue that “…analysis becomes almost impossible if different countries utilise different definitions for the same terms. Legislation can reflect large loopholes and protection gaps, while responses can suffer from a misunderstanding about prevalence, practice and perception.” The 14 terms discussed in this publication were selected by the subgroup as the "most commonly used and often misunderstood". The confusion surrounding these terms is believed by the authors "to be indicative of a much wider problem". No effort is made by the authors to recommend the use of one definition over another, but only to present the variety of uses of each term for further consideration. The first part of the publication discusses the 14 terms and their varied use within the field. Child prostitution, Child sex tourism, Child marriage, Child pornography, Trafficking in children, Child sexual abuse, Paedophilia, Commercial sexual exploitation of children , Who is a child? , Worst forms of child labour , Forced marriage , Incest , Adoption , Female genital mutilation . The second part of the publication cites the use of these terms by various international instruments. In this section the authors argue that “As a reading of these instruments makes clear, the absence of clear and consistent definitions creates ambiguities, and it is misleading to assume that an understanding of certain terms is shared across the board. “Creating such a shared understanding, the authors state, "is an essential part of a substantive approach to child protection."
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