Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children


The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                      

Republic of Bulgaria

Bulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, has experienced strong growth since a major economic downturn in 1996. Successive governments have demonstrated a commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but have failed so far to rein in rising inflation and large current account deficits. Bulgaria has averaged more than 6% growth since 2004, attracting significant amounts of foreign direct investment, but corruption in the public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime remain significant challenges.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Bulgaria

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Bulgaria.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims


International Office for Migration Bulgaria Hotline
293 94 777
Country code: 359-



Child Prostitution Decreasing in Bulgaria

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network BIRN, 08 06 2007

[accessed 12 Aug  2013]

The decrease in child prostitution was confirmed by the 2006 US Department of State Report on Human Rights Practises in Bulgaria, which stated that "the Ministry of Interior identified 255 children as 'at risk' of being forced into prostitution between January and October, compared to 398 in 2005."

While child prostitution is on the decrease, a hurdle in the fight against it seems to be a lack of a legal framework. The Bulgarian judiciary does not offer a definition of child prostitution and does not define prostitution in general as a crime, Petkov pointed out.

Mentioning the strict laws against kidnapping for prostitution purposes that are currently in place, Petkov added "Bulgaria is not considered a destination for so-called 'child sex tourism'."


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Lara Green, ECPAT International, 2013

[accessed 26 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Bulgaria. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 23 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law differentiates between forcing children into prostitution, which is punishable by up to eight years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 15,000 levs ($8,400), and child sex trafficking, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 20,000 levs ($11,200). The law prohibits child pornography and provides for up to six years in prison and a fine of up to 8,000 levs ($4,480) for violations. Authorities enforced the law. The legal minimum age for consensual sex is 14. In April the UN special rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children found that Romani children were disproportionately at risk of sexual or other types of violence and that cooperation among the various authorities engaged in child protection remained a problem.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 24 January 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children are involved in the distribution of drugs and in prostitution, sometimes working with organized crime rings. Many victims of child prostitution are ethnic Roma children. Bulgaria is a transit country and, to a lesser extent, a country of origin and destination for trafficking in girls for sexual exploitation. Bulgarian citizens are also internally trafficked for sexual exploitation. Victims are primarily trafficked from Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Russia, and Central Asia through Bulgaria into Western, Southern, and Eastern Europe. Ethnic Roma children are disproportionately represented among victims.

Concluding Observations Of The Committee On The Rights Of The Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 7 and 8 January 1997

[accessed 24 January 2011]

[14] The Committee is also concerned by the reported ill-treatment of children in the family and in institutions and the lack of adequate measures for the psycho-social recovery from such abuses. Cases of ill-treatment of children by law enforcement personnel in or outside detention centers are also a very grave matter of concern, even if they are isolated cases. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned by the recent rise in child prostitution and the production and dissemination of pornographic materials involving children. In this regard, the fact that no specific and appropriate legislation and programs exist to prevent and combat sexual abuse and exploitation is a serious concern to the Committee.

READING ROOM: Bulgaria's working girls

Libby Gomersall, The Sofia Echo, Aug 13 2007

[accessed 24 January 2011]

In Bulgaria, prostitution, like corruption, is much more open. It does not confine itself to seedy ghettos or ads in phone boxes, nor is it organised into a “red light area” as it is in Amsterdam and Hamburg. Most of the girls come from the destitute Roma population. They are usually organised by a local pimp, who takes a percentage of their earnings and chauffeurs them to and from their spot on a busy main road each day. They stand there for hours on end in freezing winter winds and burning hot sunshine. They relieve themselves in nearby hedgerows and are responsible for taking along their own food and beverage. A 2006 poll carried out by the Bulgarian Centre for Gender Studies suggests that the lack of cash and job alternatives is the leading motive for girls who take up prostitution. In the resorts, the pimps are often nightclub bouncers, hotel workers or cab drivers.

All of the girls I have seen soliciting are over the age of consent, which is 14 in Bulgaria, most are in their late teens and early 20s. Many are exceptionally attractive making you double take as to whether they are actually “on the game” or just innocently waiting for a lift. All of the girls I spoke to were extremely friendly. “We work out of need,” 19-year-old Sonia recounts. “I can earn more money doing this work than working a 13-hour shift in a bar in the resorts. It is just work for me. I don’t really think about what I do.”

The Protection Project - Bulgaria [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - According to a recent study, among identified female victims of trafficking in Bulgaria, all were trafficked for sexual exploitation. At the time of their identification and referral for assistance, 48 percent were minors. They are mostly lured by false promises of jobs.  A significant number of victims come from Bulgaria’s southern mountainous region bordering Greece, Macedonia, and Turkey, as well as from other border areas.

Women are lured into the industry through false job advertisements offering jobs as models, dancers, and au pairs. Many of the girls recruited are orphans or come from disadvantaged families, making them more vulnerable to the promises of traffickers offering them work abroad.  Teenage girls are often kidnapped and, among the Roma minority, frequently sold to traffickers by their families. - htcp

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action [DOC]

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – BULGARIA – The Agency was created in January 2001, and has CSEC has one of its priorities. A working group has been established in the National Council for the Protection of Children. It has decided that members of the group will coordinate efforts and search for solutions to CSEC.

Child Prostitution Flourish in Bulgaria, Romania (Sofia News Agency), March 5, 2007

[accessed 10 April 2011]

Child prostitution in Bulgaria and Romania is on the rise, according to a research, published by UNICEF.

Sex tourism is mostly growing in countries where a sudden boom took place in the tourist sector, not leaving the state enough time to take measures against child exploitation.

Country Information Bulgaria

Terre des Hommes via its Internet platform against sexual exploitation of children in tourism

[accessed 10 April 2011]


COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN TOURISM - Bulgaria is a transit country for people traffickers from the Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Uzbekistan. But Bulgarians are also transported to other European states for sexual exploitation, primarily Gypsy women and girls. Bulgaria is also a target country for child abusers. According to non-governmental organizations, the victims are mostly girls, and in many cases they are pressed into sex with strangers because of the living conditions in their families.

Combating Human Trafficking - Bulgaria - January 2003 - present

Basic Education and Policy Support Activity BEPS

[accessed 10 April 2011]

[photo caption] A common sight in Bulgaria: a taxi advertises an offer for young girls to passengers


Svetlana’s Journey

Director:  Michael Cory Davis, Screenplay:  Michael Cory Davis, Bulgaria, 2004 -- 40 min, color

[accessed 10 April 2011]

[accessed 1 November 2016]

Svetlana’s journey is a story about “Stolen Innocence”. The story is a gruesome retelling through recollections of a 13 yr. old girl after escaping the prison where she was held captive by pimps.

After losing her mother, and having no other family Svetlana was forced to live in an orphanage. She was adopted by a family who’s sole purpose was to acquire her … she was tortured, manipulated, and abused by the “pimp couple”, so that she became a shell of a body, used 15 times a day by various gentleman buyers.

Neglected Children Society (SNC)

UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute - IRISEM - Organizations against Trafficking and CSEC

[accessed 10 April 2011]


The aims of NCS include:

Prevention of violence against children, child abuse, child neglect, child prostitution and child sexual trafficking;

Supporting children at social and criminal risk and

Re-integration of abused, neglected children and victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Miss Humanity

Velina Nacheva, The Sofia Echo, Jan 15 2004

[accessed 24 January 2011]

"Magi" Vulchanova, Goodwill Ambassador and Face to Face Spokesperson, has a unique mission in life, which she took on after being crowned Miss Bulgaria 2000. Magi spends most of her time in South Africa, but during her visits to Bulgaria she leads many campaigns, and works with girls vulnerable to human trafficking. Magi's focus is educating and talking to girls from orphanages in Blagoevgrad's and Rousse, which are border checkpoints where financially vulnerable girls are often trafficked abroad. In conversations with children from orphanages and schools, Magi explains the dangers that children might encounter when talking to strangers who offer strange work opportunities. - htcp

Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes

ECPAT International Newsletters, Issue No : 33  1/December/2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

EASTERN EUROPE - Hungary and Poland are receiver, sender and transit countries for the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Romania is a sender and receiver country but Bulgaria is only a sender country. Hungary and Poland receive children from Romania, Ukraine and Russia. The main destinations for children trafficked from and through Poland are Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. Many of the victims are boys. Furthermore, in Poland students voluntarily prostitute themselves in Germany over the weekends in order to earn money.




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - BULGARIA [PDF]

ECPAT 2005

[accessed 10 April 2011]

There is no organised child sex tourism in Bulgaria, according to official data provided by the Government. A few isolated cases involving underage girls have been  reported by the media, but cannot be considered evidence of a child sex tourism industry. Nonetheless, the danger of this phenomenon potentially exists, as Bulgaria is a growing tourist destination. Law enforcement authorities and other stakeholders are aware of the risk and have started working on prevention.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

CHILDREN – The MOI identified 398 children as "at risk" of being forced into prostitution during the first nine months of the year, compared to 510 in 2004. Child prostitution reportedly was particularly common among Romani girls; there were no known cases of boys engaged in prostitution

In December 2004 the SACP reported that 625 children were known to be either living or working on the streets and were primarily involved in begging, prostitution, or car window washing.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Child Prostitution - Bulgaria",, [accessed <date>]