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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Republic of Paraguay

Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector, featuring reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels.

The economy rebounded between 2003 and 2008, however, as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion. Paraguay is the sixth largest soy producer in the world.  [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 Paraguay.  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.


Triple Border Project,Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

International Labour Organisation ILO Office for United Kingdom and Ireland, 19 March 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 17 September 2011]

PERSONAL STORY MABELIA - Mabelia is 10 years old. On November 30, 2002, she was found by a merchant from Ciudad del Este on Adraina Jara y Pampliega street. It was approximately 9:00 p.m. when she was found in, what is perhaps, one of the most frequented corners of the centre of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.

She was very dirty. Dressed in pants and a pullover, and wearing Japanese-style slippers, when she was found she had about 12 USD (80.000 Gs, Guaraníes) in her pockets, a product of her 'sexual activity'. It had been 48 hours since she had returned to her mother's home, but she feared going back, since she had not met the goal that had been established by her mother, Doña Maria.

At the Courthouse, the young girl told the judge that the money found in her pockets was the fruit of her 'sexual work'. She explained that, encouraged by her mother, she would leave her house in the morning and sometimes would cross the Puente de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge)to the border city of Foz de Iguazu in Brazil on the pretext of buying candies to sell later. She admitted to having an 'established clientele'. htcp


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Luna Nueva, ECPAT International, 2014

[accessed 6 September 2020]


Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Paraguay. 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 6 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - According to the Ministry of Children and Youth, child trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced domestic servitude remained problematic. The law provides penalties of up to eight years of imprisonment for persons responsible for pimping or brokering victims younger than 17 years of age.

The minimum age of consent is 14 when married and 16 when not married. The law sets the penalty for sexual abuse in cases involving violence or intercourse to at least 15 years in prison if the victim is younger than 18, and to 20 years in prison if the victim is younger than 10. The penal code also provides for fines or up to three years in prison for the production, distribution, and possession of pornography involving children or adolescents younger than 18. Authorities can increase this penalty to 10 years in prison depending on the age of the child and the child’s relationship to the abuser. The law prohibits the publication of names, images, or audios of underage sexual abuse victims or witnesses and stipulates fines and one year in prison for offenders.

In the first 10 months of the year, the Prosecutor’s Office received thousands of reports of sexual abuse against children. In September a prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office indicted 13 navy officers who had sexually abused a 13-year-old girl at a navy garrison in 2018.

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 948]

Criadazgo, a practice in which middle-class and wealthy families informally employ and house child domestic workers from impoverished families, is pervasive in Paraguay; the 2011 National Survey of Child and Adolescent Activities estimated that more than 46,000 children were engaged in criadazgo. Many of these children are in situations of domestic servitude, subjected to violence and abuse, and highly vulnerable to sex trafficking. (2,4,11,17,30,31) Children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in Ciudad del Este; in the Tri-Border area between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil; and along commercial shipping routes on the Paraguay River. (3,7,25,31)

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 12 October 2001

[accessed 16 December 2010]

[49] The Committee expresses its deep concern that, with regard to the increasing phenomenon of commercial sexual exploitation of children, there are no data available, legislation is inadequate, cases involving sexually exploited children are often not investigated and prosecuted, victims are criminalized, and rehabilitation programs are not available. It further notes that a national plan against commercial sexual exploitation of children has not been developed.

Success Stories

The Global Fund for Children, Asunción Paraguay

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

[accessed 3 July 2011]

CYNTHIA - Although technically in the state’s care, Cynthia was free to roam the streets. She began using drugs and turned to small-time robberies and occasional prostitution to survive. “My life was drugs and fighting,” she recalls, but under her tough demeanor, Cynthia desperately wanted change.

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 – PARAGUAY – In 1999, the NGO Luna Nueva made contact with both governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the Brazilian border town of Foz de Iguacu and the Paraguayan border town of Ciudad del Este.  As a result of this contact, a commission has been formed involving organizations working in Paraguay and Foz de Iguacu, Brazil. The aim of this commission is to join efforts against the increasing problem of trafficking of children for sexual purposes in this border region.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 3 July 2011]

[59] The Penal Code criminalizes the use of children in prostitution, but does not directly penalize the sale, traffic or use of children in pornography.  In legal proceedings concerning child pornography, cases have been referred under article 135 of the Penal Code, which addresses sexual abuse of children.  Children will only incur criminal responsibility for their involvement in these offences where they are the author, and not as the victim.  Children under the age of 14 do not incur legal responsibility.  Following the commitments made during the Yokohama Congress, a National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Sexual Exploitation is being elaborated.

Brazil, Paraguay Reach Agreement On Resolving Border Issues

Xinhua News Agency, April 03, 2005

[accessed 3 July 2011]

Paraguay, on its part, has committed itself to cooperating in fighting illicit activities such as smuggling of goods, tax evasion, drug trafficking, piracy, money laundering and child prostitution.

Concluding Comments - Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women CEDAW, 28-01-2005

[accessed 3 July 2011]

[28] While appreciating the State party's efforts to address the issue of trafficking in women and girls, including the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in 2003 and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in 2004, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in 2003, and the establishment of an inter-agency board including representatives from the civil society to combat trafficking, the Committee is concerned that domestic legislation has not been put in place in line with those instruments and that provisions on sexual exploitation and trafficking of girls and boys are absent in the Childhood and Adolescence Code. It also expresses concern about the lack of a comprehensive plan to prevent and eliminate trafficking of women and to protect victims as well as the lack of systematic data collection on this phenomenon.

Frequently Asked Questions about CSEC

ECPAT International

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

[accessed 3 July 2011]

Immigration controls at the Paraguay - Brazil border are extremely lax. Authorities do not request identification papers from unaccompanied children or from adults traveling with young children. It has been reported that while some children are being trafficked across this border from Paraguay to Brazil, others are being trafficked from Brazil into Paraguay.

Regional Governmental Congress on Sexual Exploitation of Children  [PDF]

Dr. Carlos Alberto Arestivo, Dept of Social Action, Republic of Paraguay, Government Report on Sexual Exploitation

[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 16 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 - Paraguay is a source country for women and children trafficked to Argentina and Spain for sexual exploitation and forced labor as well as a destination country for girls trafficked from neighboring countries for sexual exploitation. There are reports of children working as prostitutes in the border regions of Ciudad del Este, Hernandarias and Encarnación, where trafficking is a particular problem. Children from poor families are trafficked internally from rural to urban areas.

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 - Sexual exploitation of children also was a problem. UNICEF reported that two-thirds of sex industry workers were minors, the majority of whom began working between the ages of 12 and 13. In addition, UNICEF reported there were more than 40 thousand criadas (domestic servants) between the ages of 6 and 12, who were often sexually exploited as well. In November the government's Municipal Advisory Council on the Rights of Children and Adolescents reported that 35 percent of street children in Ciudad del Este had been victims of sexual exploitation, in many cases with the full knowledge of their parents.

Human Rights Reports » 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 31, 2003

[accessed 3 April 2020]

Prostitution by adults is not illegal, and exploitation of women, especially teenage prostitutes, remained a serious problem.  National daily newspaper Noticias ran a series of features in September and October chronicling child prostitution in Asuncion and other cities in the country.  The Penal Code punishes compelling a minor under 18 years of age to work as a prostitute.  In July the ILO completed a study that observed children as young as 8 years of age involved in prostitution, many to supplement their families' incomes.  In September and October, the newspaper Noticias published a series of anecdotal articles about children working as prostitutes in Asuncion, Ciudad del Este, Ita, and other towns; they often were recruited by boyfriends and older relatives or were runaways.

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