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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Republic of Guatemala

Guatemala is the most populous of the Central American countries with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-tenth of GDP, two-fifths of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products, with sugar exports benefiting from increased global demand for ethanol.

The distribution of income remains highly unequal with more than half of the population below the national poverty line. Other ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, curtailing drug trafficking and rampant crime, and narrowing the trade deficit.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Guatemala

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Guatemala.  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

National Civil Police
Country code: 502-



Guatemala: Where Sexual Exploitation of Minors Is Not a Crime

Alberto Mendoza, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Guatemala City, Oct 13, 2006

[accessed 20 May 2011]

[accessed 6 November 2016]

Sexual exploitation of minors is not classified as a crime in Guatemala, where activists say child sex tourism is on the rise, and the toughest penalty for "corruption of minors" and "aggravated procuring" is a 400 dollar fine.

"I had problems at home, and a girlfriend took me to work with her in a bar." That is how Alba, at the age of 14, began to be sexually exploited in a brothel on the outskirts of the Guatemalan capital. Her mother was demanding that she bring money home, and she saw it as a way to earn an income.  For Alba's family, which is poor, the 160 dollars a month that she brought home was an important source of income.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

ONG Raíces & ONG Paicabí, ECPAT International, 2014

[accessed 30 August 2020]


Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Guatemala. 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 30 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law provides sentences ranging from 13 to 24 years in prison, depending on the victim’s age, for engaging in sex with a minor. The minimum age of consensual sex is 18.

The law prohibits child pornography and establishes penalties of six to 10 years in prison for producing, promoting, and selling child pornography and two to four years’ imprisonment for possessing it. The Public Ministry and the PNC conducted several raids against alleged online child pornography networks. The Regional Unit against Trafficking in Persons, responsible for eight departments in the Western Highlands and launched in 2018, was expanding the government’s investigative capacity against child pornography offenders. The commercial sexual exploitation of children, including child sex tourism, remained a problem, including in privately run orphanages.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 30 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 562]

Children, both Guatemalan-born and from other countries, are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, including in sex tourism. (31) Girls, LGBTI persons, and indigenous Guatemalans are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. (31) Traffickers are increasingly using social media to recruit children. (30) Multiple sources indicate that children are recruited into gangs to serve as lookouts, couriers, and drug dealers. (1)

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 8 June 2001

[accessed 8 February 2011]

[52] While noting that the National Plan against Sexual and Commercial Exploitation is in the final stages of elaboration, the Committee expresses its deep concern that, with regard to the increasing phenomenon of commercial sexual exploitation of children, in particular girls, there are no data available, legislation is inadequate, cases involving sexually exploited children are often not investigated and prosecuted, and no rehabilitation programs are available.

Child Trafficking Soar in Guatemala

Prensa Latina News Agency, Jul 23, 2007

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Maria Eugenia Villareal, member of the NGO, said girls aged eight to fourteen are sold as sex slaves or used in risky sectors like garbage collection and classification, peddling and construction.

Attorney Alex Colop calls serious problem the absence of laws with severe sanctions for such practices since the perpetrators walk free on bail or pay a fine.  In addition, the children do not press charges fearing threats from the exploiters or to loose their income source.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – GUATEMALA – The process for the development of a national plan in Guatemala has been meticulous and long. Due to the regional differences in Guatemala and the fact that 22 indigenous languages are spoken, it was felt that the plan needed to take into consideration the particularities and needs of each region. An initial diagnosis on CSEC in Guatemala was carried out, followed by two regional workshops to determine the needs of each region. The National Plan of Action is awaiting final approval.

Child Prostitution: A Growing Scourge

W. E. Gutman, The Panama News, TEGUCIGALPA, Vol. 10, No. 7, April 17, 2004

[accessed 20 May 2011]

[accessed 5 November 2016]

A REGION OUT OF CONTROL - At least 5,000 minors live in the streets of Guatemala and many have turned to prostitution to survive.  Attributed in part to Guatemala's dismal economy, this phenomenon is also blamed on an alarming rise in the use of crack cocaine among homeless youth, a practice that further prejudice them in the eyes of trigger-happy police who often rape, torture and murder them.

The Protection Project - Guatemala [DOC]

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

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - A United Nations report reveals that about 2,000 prostituted minors were working in Guatemala. Child prostitution is concentrated in Guatemala City, border-crossing areas, sectors with a great number of migrant laborers, ports, and areas surrounding military bases and tourist spots. Traffickers recruit young women and girls by offering them false immigration papers. According to one report, of the 270 Guatemalan brothels visited by Casa Alianza, 70 percent had female minors and more than half of them came from other countries in the region.

Guatemala - Reports to Treaty Bodies - Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Human Rights Internet, For The Record 2002 - The United Nations Human Rights System, Volume 4: Latin America & the Caribbean

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

[accessed 14 September 2011]

The Committee expressed concern about the following elements, inter alia: the apparent lack of coordination between numerous national mechanisms at various levels aimed at institutionalizing women's rights and gender mainstreaming; the fact that, while the Constitution refers to the principle of equality, the terms "equity" and "equality" appear to be used synonymously in the government's reports and programmes; the ambiguity of laws dealing with prostitution, particularly child prostitution; the high level of child prostitution and sexual exploitation of minors.

ECPAT-USA Testifies Before the U S Senate

Sharon L. Wallenberg, Main US Servas UN Rep, UN Reports - Summer 2002 - Sex Tourism

[accessed 20 May 2011]

CASA ALIANZA, A CENTRAL AMERICAN NGO -  Instead of the children being sent to an adequate home for trafficked victims, the six girls – as young as 14 and one of them pregnant – were sent to the Gorriones Juvenile Detention Center for Girls, and the boy was sent to a center for delinquent boys. The seven children had been duped into leaving El Salvador to work in ‘legitimate’ work places only to find themselves forced into prostitution. Two men have been arrested in connection with the trafficking of the children but the UN is highly concerned that the victims are also being treated as criminals.

Crack Blamed For Rise In Central American Child Prostitution

The Associated Press AP, GUATEMALA CITY, November 22, 1999

[accessed 20 May 2011]

It didn't used to be so hard for girls on the street to get drugs such as glue, but the higher price of crack has induced more children into prostitution.  Nowhere has child prostitution taken off like in Guatemala.

If You Turn Up Dead, No One Will Wonder Why

Diego Cevallos, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Mexico City, Mar 10, 2005

[accessed 20 May 2011]

[accessed 6 November 2016]

According to Capellín, who provided IPS with some data from the upcoming report, the researchers found minors under 18 years of age working as prostitutes in all of the 50 brothels they visited in Guatemala.

Regional Governmental Congress on Sexual Exploitation of Children  [PDF]

Carlos Alberto García Regas, BA, Attorney General, Sexual Exploitation of Children in Guatemala

[accessed 19 November 2016]




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 8 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Street children tend to be especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and other forms of violence, constituting a serious problem in Guatemala. In general, child prostitution is on the rise. Guatemala is considered a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked children. There is also evidence of internal trafficking. Children from poor families in Guatemala tend to be drawn into trafficking for purposes of prostitution through advertisements for lucrative foreign jobs or through personal recruitment.

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 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - Trafficking was particularly a problem in the capital and in towns along the borders with Mexico and El Salvador. Child migrants who did not cross the border into Mexico often remained in the country and resorted to or were forced into prostitution. Many women and children also were brought into the country from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras by organized rings that forced them into prostitution. The primary target population for sexual exploitation was minor boys and girls or young women from poor families. Traffickers often approached individuals with promises of economic rewards, jobs in cafeterias or beauty parlors, or employment in other countries. The means of promotion included flyers, newspaper advertisements, and verbal or personal recommendations.

Human Rights Reports » 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2004

[accessed 2 April 2020]

CHILDREN - Child prostitution was especially a problem in the capital and in the towns of Escuintla, Tecun Uman, and Coban. Child prostitution in towns along the borders with Mexico and El Salvador continued to increase. Child migrants who failed to cross the border into Mexico often remained in the country and resorted to prostitution to survive. Many children were also brought into the country from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras by organized rings that forced the children into prostitution.

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