n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The possible role of child sexual abuse in the involvement of girls in prostitution

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The perception of childhood as a time of protected innocence, carries notable weight within South African society (Straus 1990:82). Headlines that read "Paedophiles' cellar of shame" (Morgan 1997:38) and "SA's shame children in the sex industry" (Altenroxel 1997:34), however, provide contradicting evidence to this viewpoint. Cole (1994:29) supports this opinion regarding the South African situation by stating that sexual violence against children is becoming a common phenomenon in South Africa and researchers such as Bartol (1985:247), Goldstein (1987:61) and Bagley and King (1990:10), are of the opinion that the increase in juvenile crimes such as prostitution, may be attributed to sexual abuse during childhood. The 1996 National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) identified crimes against children as one of its priority crimes. On this premise, a study was conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) (Meek 1999:9) to determine whether crimes against children were increasing. This research showed that an increase of 28% in crimes against children had occurred annually between 1993 and 1995, and that the crime they were most likely to become a victim of, would be one of a sexual nature. In 1997, girls of 17 years of age and younger, constituted 40% of all reported rapes. Of the total reports, 42% were reported in the Gauteng Province, which constitutes a higher percentage than the national average. Child sexual abuse and the influence it can have on the individual's involvement in prostitution is thus an important theme for criminological research, especially within the changing socio-political and economic status of South Africa, where the nature of child prostitution is also showing change. It is thus important to determine the character of child prostitution in order to enable future policy recommendations and preventative measures to be made and instituted.

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