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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Republic of Kiribati

A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources and is one of the least developed Pacific Islands. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence from the UK in 1979. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. The economy has fluctuated widely in recent years. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of GDP.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Kiribati

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


Pacific Island children risk sex abuse

Pacific Island News Association (Fiji) Pacnews, Wellington, 15 December 2006

[accessed 6 October 2012]

Children in Pacific Island countries are at high risk of being traded for sex by family members and friends, a United Nations study has found, Stuff NZ reports.  The report from studies in five Pacific Island countries found an alarming degree of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and that "children are most at risk in their homes and communities and with people they know and trust".

The report, by the UN Children's Fund Pacific, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and End Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, is based on studies in 2004 and 2005 in Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The report in its summary said the five studies confirmed that in each country children were sexually abused by family members and neighbours, and that child prostitution, child pornography, early marriage, child sex tourism and trafficking occurred.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Perceptions of Frontline Welfare Workers on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Pacific [PDF]

Rosalind Fennell, ECPAT International, June 2019

[accessed 1 September 2020]

In 2019, ECPAT International conducted a detailed survey that targeted Pacific region welfare workers directly managing a range of cases with children. Frontline staff in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati were identified by local experts and supported to complete an online survey. The main objective was to collect new data that helps describe a nuanced picture of how sexual exploitation of children (SEC) is occurring within Pacific communities and how it is presenting to those working on the welfare frontline.

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 1 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits the procurement of any girl younger than 18 for the purpose of prostitution and prohibits using a child of either gender younger than 15 for prostitution. In both cases the maximum penalty is two years in prison. The minimum age for consensual sex is 15. Sexual relations with a girl younger than 13 carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and sexual relations with a girl ages 13 to 14 carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The victim’s consent is not a permissible defense under either provision; however, in the latter case, reasonable belief the victim was 15 or older is a permissible defense. While this provision applies only to female children, male-on-male sexual exploitation of children can be prosecuted under provisions against “unnatural” offenses (which cover both male and female victims) and as acts of “gross indecency between males,” with maximum penalties of 14 and five years in prison, respectively. The penal code has no specific provision concerning child pornography.

Anecdotal information from local government and nongovernment sources suggested that a small number of underage girls were among groups of women alleged to engage in commercial sex with crewmembers from foreign fishing vessels.

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 1 September 2020]

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

[page 686]

During the reporting period, evidence indicated that a small number of underage girls were allegedly engaged in commercial sexual exploitation with crewmembers from foreign fishing vessels. In exchange, the girls received cash, alcohol, food, and goods. (4) Additionally, the government did not collect or publish data on child labor in 2018.

Kiribati’s penal code does not criminalize the use, procurement, or offering of children for pornography or pornographic performances. Kiribati’s penal code also does not criminalize the use of children for prostitution and does not criminalize the procurement or offering of boys ages 15-18 for prostitution. (6,8)

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 29 September 2006

[accessed 6 October 2012]

[60] The Committee is concerned at the reported increase in commercial sexual exploitation of children in Kiribati.

Prostitution and Pacific fishing

Ben Bohane Greenpeace International, Kiribati, October 13, 2006

[accessed 10 June 2011]

KORAKOREA GIRLS - There is no law against prostitution in Kiribati, which was highlighted recently when 80 girls were rounded up and brought before a local court before being released. Yet there is growing concern that Kiribati maybe breaching international conventions on child protection since many of the girls are only 14 and 15 years of age. UNICEF is preparing to release a damning document relating to underage prostitution in several Pacific countries, including Kiribati.

KATHY - One girl involved in the trade, "Kathy", claims girls as young as 12 are involved.

"I know about one 12 year old girl who was taken out to a fishing boat by her aunty and she has disappeared. Her family are very worried since she has been missing now for 4 months".

Kathy is a pretty 21 year old girl who lives with her father, an unemployed former government worker, in a crowded settlement near the Betio port on south Tarawa. She claims there are many local girls involved in the trade and they all have different motivations.

"It all depends because some they really need money to support their families with food, so they feel some pressure. Other girls need money to buy drinks for themselves and friends when they want to go out to the bars".

Kathy says that even though their have been crackdowns by local authorities the girls are not scared of getting caught by police because "their family are supporting them".

‘Ugly Koreans’ Continue Sordid Antics in South Seas

Editorial, The Chosunilbo, 2  26, 2007

[accessed 10 June 2011]

After a fact-finding visit to the South Pacific island nation of Kiribati, the National Youth Commission revealed that Korean fishermen had not stopped buying sex from young girls there. It’s been two years since the commission paid a visit to Kiribati after child prostitution there grabbed international attention. During their latest trip, seven out of 24 female prostitutes the commission met were between 14 to 18 years of age.

Report on the Pacific Regional Workshop on Combating Poverty and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth [PDF]

Inter-Agency Group (IAG) consisting of ESCAP, UNICEF-EAPRO and ECPAT International,  Nadi Fijii, 15-19 September, 2003

Click [here] for more information.  The  URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 10 June 2011]

[p.40] KIRIBATI - CSEC - There have been reported cases of CSEC in Kiribati. Two nightclubs operating on Tarawa are known to have used young girls for business promotional purposes and the Social Welfare Division suspects that Korean fishing vessels may be involved in CSEC.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in the Pacific: A Regional Report [PDF]


[accessed 10 June 2011]

3.2 TYPES AND PATTERNS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE - The Kiribati study reported that there were more than 15 cases of “defilement” (sexual intercourse with a girl under 13) between 1999 and 2004, with four cases of child rape and one attempted child rape between May and September 2000.

Gender and HIV/AIDS in the Asia and Pacific Region [PDF]

Emerging Social Issues Division of UNESCAP, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC, Gender and Development, Discussion paper Series No. 18, December 2005

[accessed 6 October 2012]

[p.7]  B. PACIFIC ISLANDS - Korea’s National Youth Commission has interviewed residents in Kiribati, Korean fishermen, and others in collaboration with End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes' (ECPAT)-Korea, and found several underage sex workers in the bars solicited by the fishermen.




The Department of Labor’s 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor [PDF]

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2006

[accessed 28 November 2010]

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

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - The Penal Code criminalizes the procurement of minors under 15 years of age for the purpose of sexual relations and establishes a penalty of 2 years of imprisonment for such offenses. The Penal Code also bans parents or guardians from prostituting children under 15 years old. Child labor laws are enforced by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Employment.

Human Rights Reports » 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - UNICEF and other international NGOs identified child prostitution as a problem. Specifically, workers on foreign fishing vessels often exploited underage girls. A study conducted in June 2005 by the National Youth Commission of the Republic of Korea and a Korea-based children's rights group, and a regional report on commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Pacific published during the year by UNICEF, both highlighted commercial sexual exploitation of underage girls by crew members of foreign fishing vessels that stopped in Kiribati. The reports estimated that approximately 20 to 80 girls were involved in such prostitution. Some of the girls worked as prostitutes in bars frequented by crewmembers, and local I-Kiribati often acted as facilitators, delivering girls to the boats. According to the reports the girls generally received cash, food, or goods in exchange for sexual services. The lack of a legal ban on prostitution hindered police efforts to stem the practice, which continued. During the year the government, with assistance from UNICEF and other NGOs, was working on a national plan to combat child prostitution and child sexual abuse.

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