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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Republic of Malawi

Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 85% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports.

The government faces many challenges including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, facing up to environmental problems, dealing with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Malawi

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


Saving Sex Workers in Malawi

Pilirani Semu-Banda, The WIP Internet News Service, October 13, 2008

[accessed 17 June 2011]

Twenty-seven year-old Lima Wochi from Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, looks dejected. She ventured into prostitution at the tender age of 12. She says she is tired of sex work and is looking for a way out of it.

Wochi says she was forced into prostitution by abject poverty. “I found sex work lucrative and I thought it was a very easy way of making money.” She left her rural village in southern Malawi and moved to the country’s capital, Lilongwe. She immediately started roaming around the city’s drinking places and hotels plying the sex trade.

“I don’t want to be a prostitute anymore. I am fed up with everything that comes with it, but my main problem is that I never went to school and I can never get good employment,” she worries.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Violet Odala, ECPAT International, 2016

[accessed 3 September 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Malawi. 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 3 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law forbids engaging in sexual activity with children younger than age 16 and stipulates penalties for conviction of 14 to 21 years in prison. The law further prohibits “indecent practice” in the presence of or with a child, with offenders liable to imprisonment of up to 14 years.

The law prohibits child pornography and using a child for public entertainment of an immoral or harmful nature. The maximum penalty for conviction of engaging in child pornography is 14 years’ imprisonment, while those found guilty of procuring a child for public entertainment are liable to a fine of 100,000 MWK ($130) and seven years’ imprisonment. The law was not effectively enforced.

The widespread belief that children were unlikely to be HIV-positive and that sexual intercourse with virgins could cleanse an individual of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, contributed to the widespread sexual exploitation of minors. The trafficking of children for sexual purposes was a problem, and child prostitution for survival at the behest of parents or without third-party involvement occurred. In urban areas bar and rest house owners recruited girls as young as 12 from rural areas to do household work such as cleaning and cooking. They then coerced them to engage in sex work with customers in exchange for room and board. For additional information, see Appendix C.

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 3 September 2020]

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

[page 747]

Specialized units for child labor issues do not exist within the Malawi Police Service or the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, which may impede the ability of the government to enforce criminal laws related to child labor. (29)

In addition, children who are the victims of commercial sexual exploitation are sometimes arrested by the police and detained alongside adults. In some instances, these children fall victim to abuse, including sexual extortion, by the police. (29)

Many children in Malawi lack birth certificates. The inability of law enforcement officials to verify the ages of child victims may have impeded efforts to prosecute traffickers under the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act and the Trafficking in Persons Act. (54)

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 February 2002

[accessed 19 February 2011]

[61] The Committee is concerned at the lack of knowledge about sexual exploitation and abuse of children and at the increasing number of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and pornography.  Concern is also expressed at the insufficient programs for the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of child victims of such abuse and exploitation.

Child Prostitution worsens in Cities

Pilirani Semu-Banda, Nation Online, Jun 04, 05

[accessed 17 April 2012]

Three months ago, 15-year-old M. C. trekked to Blantyre with friends who assured her she would get a job as a waitress in a restaurant. Today, she is among hundreds of girl children, many as young as 10, who are being used as prostitutes in brothels that have mushroomed in Blantyre’s Ndirande and Bangwe townships and at Biwi in Lilongwe, among other places in the country.

Children's Rights

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, 2004

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

[accessed 17 June 2011]

Early in 2004, the outgoing UNICEF resident representative decried child prostitution that was shown to be on the increase in Malawi. It has also been reported that teenage girls are being recruited and being kept in Rest House rooms to attract more patronage. This trend is prevalent in Karonga and Lilongwe.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Major destination for traffickers in women and children

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Johannesburg, 23 April 2004

[accessed 13 March 2015]

"Sexual exploitation - in particular, prostitution - is the most widely documented form of exploitation for women and children trafficked within and from Africa," said the report.  In certain instances it has been "exacerbated also by a demand from foreigners", such as in holiday resorts in Malawi, where children are reported to be sexually exploited by European tourists, or sent to Europe as sex slaves. htcp

Analysis Of The Situation of Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region

Draft Consultancy Report Prepared as a component of the UNICEF – ESARO  & ANPPCAN Partnership Project on Sexual Exploitation and Children’s Rights, October, 2001, Nairobi, Kenya

[accessed 17 June 2011]

[2.1] SEX TOURISM AND SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - In Malawi, the incidence of children being abused by tourists is very prominent. Mumba (1998) notes that there is illegal exploitation of children by expatriates. Foreigners who pose as philanthropists also sexually exploit boys in tourist areas. The abusers have been reported to be ordinary men and substance abusers, with some of the men being married.

[3.1] MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM - In Malawi, lack of research and statistical information about the nature and extent of commercial sexual exploitation of children hinders the knowledge regarding the magnitude of the problem.

Seduction, Sale & Slavery: Trafficking In Women & Children For Sexual Exploitation In Southern Africa [PDF]

Jonathan Martens, Maciej ‘Mac’ Pieczkowski, & Bernadette van Vuuren-Smyth, Pretoria SA, International Organization for Migration IOM, May 2003

[accessed 23 April 2012]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - The major findings may be summarized as follows:

Mozambican victims include both girls and young women between the ages of 14 and 24. They are offered jobs as waitresses or sex workers in Johannesburg, and pay their traffickers ZAR 500 to smuggle them across the border in minibus taxis either at Komatipoort or Ponta do Ouro. They stay in transit houses along South Africa’s border with Mozambique and Swaziland for one night where they are sexually assaulted as an initiation for the sex work that awaits them. Once in Johannesburg, some are sold to brothels in the Central Business District (CBD) for ZAR 1000. Others are sold as slaves on private order for ZAR 550, or shopped around to mineworkers on the West Rand as ‘wives’ for ZAR 650. An estimated 1000 Mozambican victims are recruited, transported, and exploited in this way every year, earning traffickers approximately ZAR 1 million annually.




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 19 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 - Malawi is a source country for children trafficked regionally and internationally for menial labor or commercial sexual exploitation. There are also unconfirmed reports of small numbers of children trafficked internally to resort areas around Lake Malawi for sex tourism. In Malawi, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has left close to half a million children orphaned. Many of these children rely on informal work to supplement lost family income, and some work as caregivers for sick adults. The epidemic has also increased the demand for younger prostitutes who are perceived as healthier by their exploiters.

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 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The government took steps to respond to a March 2004 UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) study that showed a number of girls entered into sexual relationships with teachers for money, became pregnant, and subsequently left school. The study also found that many girls left school because of violent behavior by some teachers. In response, the government expanded legal protection of students subjected to exploitation and inappropriate relationships at school. On November 11, the Lilongwe magistrate court sentenced a male teacher to 6 years imprisonment for defiling a 10‑year‑old girl in a classroom.

The trafficking of children for sexual purposes was a problem, and child prostitution also occurred. The belief that children were unlikely to be HIV positive and the widespread belief that sexual intercourse with virgins can cleanse an individual of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, contributed to the sexual exploitation of minors

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 - Malawi",, [accessed <date>]