Child sexual exploitation is the act of coercing, luring or engaging a child, under the age of 18, into a sexual act, and involvement in the sex trade or pornography, with or without the child’s consent, in exchange for money, drugs, shelter, food, protection or other necessities. This can include things like “survival sex” (or exchanging sex for housing, food, and other necessities), exchanging sex for money or drugs, appearing in child sexual abuse images (also known as “child pornography”), erotic dancing or “stripping”, and working in massage parlors. Using children for these acts is abusive and illegal.
The sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children and youth is a serious concern in Manitoba. It is believed that thousands of children and youth are exploited throughout the province each year, and victimization often begins at a very young age – sometimes as young as 9 years old – and at an average of 13 to 14 years old. The majority of victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Manitoba are Indigenous women and children, however people of all genders and ethnicities may experience sexual exploitation. While children, youth and adults may be victimized in the visible sex trade, it is believed that many individuals are victimized in the “invisible” sex trade each year, which can include private venues such as homes and drug houses.
Sexual exploitation is the outcome of many underlying issues, including colonization, racism, poverty, classism, isolation, marginalization, systemic gaps, etc. These are examples of social determinants of health that may leave people vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Additionally, offender demand is a serious issue of concern that needs to be addressed.
SERC is committed to participating in the eradication of sexual exploitation. All of our education and information incorporates messages of consent and respect. As well, SERC works to support prevention initiatives, and to increase public awareness about sexual exploitation.
Children and youth who have been sexually exploited are victims of child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, this abuse often goes unreported. If you know of a child who is being sexually exploited, call a Child and Family Services (CFS) agency. If someone is in immediate danger, call your local emergency police number.
If you, or someone you know, have been the victim of human trafficking, you can phone Klinic’s 24 hour Human Trafficking Hotline (toll-free) at 1-844-333-2211 for support and counselling.