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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Republic of Panama

Panama's dollarized economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for 80% of GDP.

Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 25% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are now too large to transverse the transoceanic crossway, and should help to reduce the high unemployment

Description: Panama

rate. Strong economic performance has reduced the national poverty level to 29% in 2008; however, Panama has the second most unequal income distribution in Latin America.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

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

Country code: 507-



Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of Children (CSEC)

James Varney, The Times Picayune (New Orleans), Sikaola Costa Rica

[accessed 3 July 2011]

[scroll down]

"As they say in this dingy border junction with Panama, everything has a price. Sex with children, for example, starts at $14.41. ‘ Just take a look around,’ said Nautilio Sanchez, a furniture store and pharmacy owner who is president of the local Council for Social Development. ‘There is no playground, no swimming pool, the children have nothing and so they turn to sex. Probably 60 percent of our prostitutes here are children, and what we're facing now is a critical problem in search of a solution…So is all of Costa Rica’” -Sikaola, Costa Rica: James Varney, The Times Picayune (New Orleans)


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT - Report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitation of children  [PDF]

Maria Ibañez Beltran, ECPAT International, October2019

[accessed 25 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Panama, Central America. The overview gathers existing publicly available information on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT), online child sexual exploitation (OCSE), trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, child early and forced marriage (CEFM) and identifies gaps, research needs, and recommendations.

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 6 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation, sale, and offering for prostitution of children, in addition to child pornography. Officials from the Ministry for Public Security continued to prosecute cases of sexual abuse of children, including within indigenous communities. Ministry officials believed that commercial sexual exploitation of children occurred, including in tourist areas in Panama City and in beach communities, although they did not keep separate statistics. In September, seven Panamanians were detained for their connections to an international child pornography ring based in Brazil. For two and one-half months, Panama and Brazil worked together with authorities in El Salvador, Paraguay, Chile, Ecuador, and other foreign countries to capture and imprison the individuals responsible for this child pornography ring as part of Operation Luz de la Infancia.

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 6 September 2020]

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

[page 930]

The Government of Panama conducted 34 forced labor or sex trafficking investigations in 2018. Notably, two of those cases involved the rescue of two indigenous minors from forced labor situations. (10) Child labor training was provided to 47 National Commission for the Prevention of Crimes of Sexual Exploitation (CONAPREDES) staff, as well as to 105 law enforcement officials, 55 prosecutors, and 21 members of the Maritime and Tourism Authorities. (1) Furthermore, in September 2018, the Trafficking in Persons Commission participated in an interagency event to combat sexual exploitation that was carried out by CONAPREDES and targeted school-age children in Panama. (10)

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 4 June 2004

[accessed 15 December 2010]

[58] The Committee welcomes the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. It remains concerned that sexual exploitation and abuse continue to be serious problems and that the victims of sexual exploitation do not have access to appropriate recovery and assistance services. The Committee also remains concerned about the lack of data to determine the real dimension of the problem of child abuse and sexual exploitation and about the insufficient measures to prevent and combat trafficking of children.

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 – PANAMA – There have been reports in the Panamanian media about a possible criminal network trafficking adolescents for sexual purposes. Nevertheless, the government is apparently not interested in tackling CSEC and few concrete actions have been taken against the problem. Civil society has now started to address the issue.

Child Prostitution: A Growing Scourge

W. E. Gutman, Panama News, Tegucigalpa, Vol. 10, No. 7, April - 17, 2004

[accessed 17 September 2011]

[accessed 24 October 2017]

A REGION OUT OF CONTROL - Little is known about the sexual exploitation of minors in Panama. Massage parlors are said to be employing underage girls, mostly from Colombia and the Dominican Republic. According to INTERPOL, 10 percent of the 300 illegal migrants intercepted recently in Panama were minors.

IPEC action against child trafficking

International Labour Organisation ILO, World Of Work (No. 41, December 2001)

[accessed 3 July 2011]

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA - The problem of sexual exploitation in Central America is acute, but has gone largely unaddressed by most governments. In Honduras and Panama, the problem is barely recognized; in El Salvador, the Government has expressed concern, but there is a lack of inter institutional coordination. The situation is similar in Guatemala. Costa Rica has also expressed concern, but there is no clear policy.

Thematic Reports - Mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights

Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography, (E/CN.4/1997/95, para. 20)

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

[accessed 17 September 2011]

[scroll down to THEMATIC REPORTS

MECHANISMS OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS - The report refers to the adoption of Act No. 15 of 1990, which categorized certain activities involving minors (rape, sexual molestation and prostitution) as aggravated offences. The government indicated to the Special Rapporteur that the law has not succeeded in preventing such practices, partly because of the sophisticated communications technology currently used by organized crime.




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 15 December 2010]

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 - Panama is a transit and destination country for girls, primarily from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.  Children are also trafficked within Panama for sexual exploitation, and are involved in child pornography.

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]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - Commercial sexual exploitation of minors continued to be a problem. Commercial sexual exploitation remained primarily an internal issue. However, perpetrators included foreigners, and there continued to be limited evidence of international trafficking networks of minors to or through the country. NGO and government efforts in prevention and education remained limited by lack of resources and coordination problems.

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 - Panama",, [accessed <date>]