Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children


The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Currently, the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party has a more statist economic approach, which seeks to reduce poverty by steering investment to disadvantaged areas, developing small and medium enterprises, promoting agriculture, and expanding the already enormous civil service. The government has halted privatizations.

About 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% of them in the Middle East. They send home more than $2.5 billion a year.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: SriLanka

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

International Organization for Migration, IOM
11 5325 300
Country code: 94-



Pedophiles Prey On Sri Lankan Children

The Movement to Prevent Child Prostitution (MPCP) - News Letter

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 25 July 2011]

It is widely acknowledged that most children involved come from marginalized communities, where they live in very low-income households.  What is also disturbing is that a growing number of boys engaged in this trade are not from poor families.  For them it is more of a part time activity, whilst attending school, without the knowledge of their parents.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2006

[accessed 8 September 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Sri Lanka. 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 8 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the sale of children, offering or procuring a child for child prostitution, and practices related to child pornography, but authorities did not always enforce the law. The minimum age of consensual sex is 16.

In June UN-appointed independent rights experts said the scale of the country’s child sex tourism industry has reached such worrying proportions that the authorities should act immediately. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said that the scourge was “very widespread,” particularly in the North of the country.

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 8 September 2020]

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

[page 1084]

There are reports of children being trafficked internally, including from tea estates, to perform domestic work in Colombo. In addition, child domestic workers are subject to sexual, physical, and psychological abuse, nonpayment of wages, and restrictions on movement. (1,4) Children, predominantly boys, are also forced into commercial sexual exploitation in tourist areas as part of the sex tourism industry. (1,4,15)

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 2003

[accessed 24 December 2010]

[47] The Committee welcomes the Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1995, which seeks to protect children from sexual exploitation.  However, it is concerned that existing legislation is not effectively enforced and that child victims of sexual exploitation do not always receive adequate recovery assistance.

This bedtime story will wake you up!

Steve Fernando, The Sunday Times, July 06, 2008

[accessed 25 July 2011]

I know we’re only halfway through 2008, but I’m prepared to bet that Jake Oorloff’s A Bedtime Story is probably the most stunningly original drama you will see on stage this year.

Our normal lives? On a normal day in Sri Lankan there are, according to informed sources, more than 40,000 children working as prostitutes. The majority are boys who engage in homosexual and heterosexual sex with foreign tourists. Sri Lanka is, like Thailand and Cambodia, a well established sex-tourism destination.  A Bedtime Story chronicles the life of Kasun, a child prostitute, as seen through the eyes of four individuals: his father, his mother, his teacher and his classmate.The narrators in turn take time to establish their own personal context before exploring their relationship with Kasun. A poor uneducated father, with no permanent job, labouring hard to earn what little he can for his caring wife and their quickly growing family. A loving mother, striving to feed and look after her three children and support her hard working husband, as they are forced from one town to the next in search of work.  Then the father receives an unexpected offer from an acquaintance to earn a little extra money for the family. All Kasun has to do was to play with some foreigners who like children but have none of their own. Kasun returns from his first day at work with the money that was promised, but also with explanations and descriptions that a father cannot bear to hear. Yet the die is so quickly cast. Kasun’s money provides respite for the family’s daily financial struggles and he returns to play with his foreign friends, again, and again, and again.

Moves to eradicate child prostitution in coastal belt

Nadira Gunatilleke, Daily News, Colombo, 9 July 2007

[accessed 25 July 2011]

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) will educate children and their parents on eradicating child prostitution in the coastal belt, Government Information Department sources said.  The sources said the NCPA will raise awareness among children and parents through documentaries, lectures and posters.  They will be educated on the negative impacts of child prostitution. Steps will be taken to educate the whole community in the coastal belt.

Educating children involved in child prostitution and their parents is not successful because they are not willing to take part in awareness raising programmes and hardly participate in them, sources said.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Sri Lanka, 16 June 1998

[accessed 19 September 2011]

[13] The Committee notes with concern the plight of hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan women working abroad as domestic helpers, many of them underpaid and treated as virtual slaves. The Committee regrets that the Government has not made a serious effort to assess the negative impact of this phenomenon on children who are left in vulnerable and difficult circumstances without their mothers and to take appropriate remedial measures.

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 – SRI LANKA – Regarding prevention, Protecting Environment and Children Everywhere (PEACE/ ECPAT Sri Lanka) has launched a youth leadership program to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable children from underprivileged families, who are at high risk of being lured into prostitution, pornography or drug trafficking. About 60 children will benefit from the program.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

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

[accessed 25 July 2011]

[67] The National Child Protection Authority has formulated a National Policy to deal with the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.  Legislation criminalizes those who hire, employ, persuade, use, induce, or coerce any child for illicit sexual intercourse or to appear or perform in any obscene or indecent exhibition, indecent photograph or film, or who have possession of any such photo or film.  Concerning trafficking for the purposes of adoption, Sri Lankan legislation criminalizes a comprehensive range of activities designed to procure a child for this purpose.  Prosecutions relating to the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography were made in 2001 and 2002; unfortunately, no details were available.

Many Children Still Abused And Neglected In Sri Lanka

Damitha Hemachandra, Daily Mirror, October 8, 2003

[accessed 25 July 2011]

Child prostitution, child labor, violence against children and general inconsideration of children's feelings and views are evident in Sri Lanka.  According to the Chairman of the National Child Protection Authority, nearly 20% of boys and 10% of girls get sexually abused in their own homes and schools at the hands of parents, teachers or someone known to them.

Protection Project - Sri Lanka

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

[access date unavailable]

Sri Lanka has a reputation as a pedophile’s paradise. In 1997, it was considered the principle source of child pornography for the United States and Europe. Child care workers in Sri Lanka estimate that between 10,000 and 12,000 children are being prostituted, many of whom were orphaned during the 14-year civil war

The Current Reality Of Street Children: A Geographical Perspective

Child Hope

[accessed 25 July 2011]

Child prostitution has become a serious problem in Sri Lanka.  All poor children -- not just those on the streets -- are vulnerable targets for the country's pedophile tourism industry, which attracts thousands of foreigners each year who come to have sex with children.

A Journalist's Perspective Of The Problem In Asia [PDF]

Ms Carol Aloysius, UNESCO Expert Meeting on: Sexual abuse of children, Child Pornography and Paedophilia on the Internet: an international challenge, Paris, 18-l 9 January 1999

[accessed 25 July 2011]

It was a study by PEACE, that shocked Sri Lankan society as a whole into realizing that far from being a haven for tourists in search of the sun and our golden beaches, our country was also attracting an unsavory tribe of tourist -- the pedophiles who came here solely to gratify their sexual needs on young children.

Sri Lanka Cracks Down on Pedophiles

Dilip Ganguly, The Associated Press AP, Colombo, 12-13-1998

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

[accessed 25 July 2011]

18 percent of the boys admitted having been sexually abused during childhood, and a majority of them were abused by either a relative or a neighbor or even by a priest.  "In some cases parents themselves have sold their children. One parent told us that they were not worried because their boys would not get pregnant," the investigator said.

Movement to Prevent Child Prostitution (MPCP)

Sri Lanka Welfare Fund (SWF)

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

[accessed 25 July 2011]

Child exploitation in Sri Lanka is linked with the rapid growth of tourism since the 1970 s and estimates around 100,000 children between the ages of 6 -14 are kept in brothels and an additional 5000 children between 10 -18 are working in tourist areas.

Legislation of INTERPOL member states on sexual offences against children - Sri Lanka

INTERPOL, National Laws

[accessed 25 July 2011]

I. AGES FOR LEGAL PURPOSES/II. RAPE - The minimum age of 'consent' in the offence of rape has been increased from twelve (12) to sixteen (16) years. This means that the matter of 'consent' arises only when the raped individual is above the age of sixteen (16) years.

A 'child' means 'a person aged under eighteen (18) years old'.

Mandatory minimum sentences have been imposed (10 years instead of 2 years in most cases) such as in case of rape, gross sexual abuse and acts of gross indecency between two persons.

Monetary compensation for the victims of sexual abuse, acts of gross indecency, rape and gang rape, will be imposed, the amount being determined by Court relating to the injuries caused to the victim of the offence.

Millions Suffer in Sex Slavery

United Press International UPI, Chicago, April 24, 2001

[accessed 16 February 2015]

  Ten thousand children between the ages of 6 and 14 are in Sri Lankan brothels.

End Child Exploitation - Faces of Exploitation

UNICEF, Faces of Exploitation, January 2003, ISBN: 1 871440 26 2

[accessed 24 December 2010]

[page 22]

CHILDREN IN THE SEX INDUSTRY - Children may also work independently, offering themselves for cash, as do many of the 10,000 to 15,000 boys selling themselves to sex tourists on the beaches of Sri Lanka.




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - SRI LANKA [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2006

[accessed 25 July 2011]

A distinct characteristic of sexual exploitation of children in Sri Lanka is the relatively high presence of boys among victims of such crimes when compared to other South Asian countries. In this regard, studies indicate that sexual exploitation of boys is largely organised and connected with tourism, where there is a high demand for sex with children. The vulnerability of boys to sexual exploitation appears to increase in more socially restricted and gender segregated environments where boys are given greater social mobility to navigate in the adult environment without care or a perceived need to ensure that the special protection that all children require against sexual exploitation is provided for them. In instances where families may be aware of a situation regarding the sexual exploitation of a boy, fear of stigmatisation, as much as interest in financial gain, may lead to silence.

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 24 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 - The government estimates that more than 2,000 children are engaged in prostitution.  The majority of children engaged in prostitution are victimized by local citizens, though there are reports of sex tourism as well. Trafficking of children typically does not cross national borders; children are trafficked within the country to work as domestic servants and for the purposes of sexual exploitation, especially at tourist destinations.

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 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Child prostitution was a problem in coastal resort areas. The government estimated that there were more than two thousand child prostitutes in the country, but private groups claimed that the number was as high as six thousand. Citizens committed much of the child sexual abuse in the form of child prostitution; however, some child prostitutes were boys who catered to foreign tourists. Some of these children were forced into prostitution (see section 5, Trafficking). The Department of Probation and Child Care Services provided protection to child victims of abuse and sexual exploitation and worked with local NGOs that provided shelter. The tourist bureau conducted awareness-raising programs for at-risk children in resort regions prone to sex tourism.

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 – Sri Lanka",, [accessed <date>]