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Human Trafficking
Street Children


The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Republic of Zambia

Zambia's economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, with real GDP growth in 2005-08 about 6% per year.

Zambia experienced a bumper harvest in 2007, which helped to boost GDP and agricultural exports and contain inflation. Although poverty continues to be significant problem in Zambia, its economy has strengthened, featuring single-digit inflation, a relatively stable currency, decreasing interest rates, and increasing levels of trade.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Zambia

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Zambia.  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
(0)1 25 40 55
Country code: 260-



HIV/AIDS and Child Labor In Zambia: A Rapid Assessment on the case of the Lusaka, Copperbelt and Eastern Provinces

International Labour Organization (ILO) / International Labour Organization (ILO) , 2003

[accessed 19 September 2011]

[accessed 17 November 2016]

PREVALENCE OF COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION (CSE) among children aged 14 to 16 years was common. Half of the 34 in-depth interviews were conducted with CSE victims. Girls claimed they slept with as many as 4 men per night and their earnings ranged between US$0.63 and US$2.10 per act. Condoms were rarely used. Boys clients tended to be rich widows who paid in dollars

Zambia's Street-Child Crisis

Compere: Tony Jones & Reporter: Sally Sara, Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC LATELINE, 20/11/2002

[accessed 17 August 2011]

In southern Africa food shortages and the AIDS crisis have triggered another terrible side effect: child prostitution. In Zambia, AID  workers say tens of thousands of children are living on the streets. Humanitarian groups say many children are becoming sex workers as a means of survival.  Thomas and his companion, 14-year-old Margaret, have survived the violence. Like many children on the streets, they work together. The boys provide protection while the girls sell sex to make enough money for food.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Rebecca Rittenhouse, ECPAT International, 2014

[accessed 10 September 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Zambia. 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 10 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The minimum age for consensual sexual relations is 16. The law provides penalties of up to life imprisonment for conviction of statutory rape or defilement, which the law defines as the unlawful carnal knowledge of a child younger than age 16. The minimum penalty for a conviction of defilement is 15 years’ imprisonment.

The law criminalizes child prostitution and child pornography and provides for penalties of up to life imprisonment for convicted perpetrators. The law provides for prosecution and referral to counseling or community service of child prostitutes age 12 years and older, but authorities did not enforce the law, and child prostitution was common. According to UNICEF, transactional sexual exploitation of young girls–that is, sex in exchange for food, clothes, or money among extremely vulnerable girls–was prevalent.

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 10 September 2020]

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

[page 1231]

The Employment of Young Persons and Children Amendment Act No.10 of 2004 calls for the identification of light work activities for children ages 13 to 15; however, these activities are not yet determined. (32) Penalties for adults convicted of engaging children in prostitution in the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act are different from those in the Penal Code. Although the Penal Code treats child prostitution as a felony, with a minimum 20-year jail sentence, the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act treats it differently and imposes a fine of $35 to $165 and possible discretionary prison time. (27,29) In addition, human trafficking provisions remain discordant with international standards because they require threats, the use of force, or coercion to be established for the crime of child trafficking. (28)

Although Zambia has programs that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to fully address the extent of the problem in all relevant sectors, particularly regarding child labor in agriculture, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation.

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

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

[accessed 9 March 2011]

[64] The Committee is concerned about the large and increasing number of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, including for prostitution and pornography, especially among girls, child orphans and other disadvantaged children.  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.

AIDS, Pregnancy and Poverty Trap Ever More African Girls

Sharon LaFraniere, New York Times, Patrice Lumumba Mozambique, June 3, 2005

[accessed 18 August 2011]

But for the last 25 years, the trends had been positive. African girls, like girls elsewhere, were marrying later, and a growing percentage were in school.  The AIDS epidemic now threatens to take away those hard-won gains. Orphaned and impoverished by the deaths of parents, girls here are being propelled into sex at shockingly early ages to support themselves, their siblings and, all too often, their own children.

In Zambia's capital, Lusaka, impoverished relatives order some orphaned girls as young as 14 out on the street at night, telling them they must earn their keep, a recent survey found. In Lesotho, a growing number of adolescent girls are forced to work as maids or prostitutes, UNICEF researchers have reported.

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 – ZAMBIA - Increases in CSEC in Zambia have been attributed to a number of factors, including poverty caused by an economic crisis, HIV/AIDS, peer pressure, a desire for material wealth, and early marriage leading to divorce. The growing number of families headed by children, the result of HIV/AIDS, has meant that older children are turning to prostitution in order to gain income for their siblings’ needs. Reports indicate that some foreign nationals in Zambia feed, clothe and prostitute young girls.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

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

[accessed 18 August 2011]

[80] In Zambia, concerns are being expressed that the dramatic declines in school attendance in areas affected by household food and water insecurity are the result of parents putting young girls into prostitution in order to cope financially with the crisis.  UNICEF Zambia and government experts from the Gender and Development Office were carrying out investigations into these reports.

Sex work rife among street children

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN PlusNews, Johannesburg, 12 September 2003

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Commercial sex work has become increasingly common among children aged 14 to 16.  When educated about the danger of HIV/AIDS, they say that AIDS is something in the future and that their hunger is a more real and pressing need.

Zambia should save its own children...

Japhet Banda, Times of Zambia, 11 July 2003

[Last accessed 26 August 2011]

When Tomaida Tembo received news of her impending trip to Lusaka, she was 500 km away in Katete’s Kathumba village in the Eastern Province.  The 11-year-old did not know how to react.  Lusaka to her, has been a mythical place and according to those that had been to the city, it was a place of “agebenga” (bandits) and the “akapenta” (prostitutes) who patrolled and patronised the streets of the city of ‘lights’.  What had been a mythical place to Tomaida was soon to become reality.

To make her travelling easy, the distant cousin had sent enough money to cover her travelling expenses and a lot more to help her mother settle down after her departure.  That was five years ago since the morning Tomaida left the sanctuary of her mother on a journey that changed her life forever.  Wondering on the cold streets of Lusaka, Tomaida awaits her next client on Addis Ababa drive.

Massive child labour in Zambia denounced

afrol News, 25 October 2002 -- Sources: ICFTU & afrol archives

[accessed 17 January 2011]

Neither were children safe from the perils of prostitution. The report states that "there are reports of forced prostitution [in Zambia], particularly of children, of the trafficking of women and children to neighbouring countries for the purposes of prostitution, and of combatants from neighbouring Angola kidnapping Zambians and taking them back to Angola to perform various forms of forced labour."  - htcp

The Protection Project - Zambia [DOC]

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

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - HIV/AIDS, coupled with poverty, has contributed to the proliferation of street children and child labor in Zambia. About 80 percent of Zambia’s population lives in degrading conditions. Poverty pervades both rural and urban areas, pushing most women, adolescents, and children into the informal sector of the economy, where they sell a variety of goods, their labor, or their bodies. Prostitution is rife in major towns and smaller urban areas. Nearly 1 million children are reportedly orphaned in the country, and 75,000 live on the streets. Nearly half of Zambian children, regardless of orphan status, are not enrolled in primary s.  htsccp

Worst Forms of Child Labour Report 2005 - Zambia

Global March Against Child Labour, 2005

[accessed 13 September 2012]

CHILD PROSTITUTION AND PORNOGRAPHY - NATIONAL STATISTICS - There are an estimated 70,000 child sex workers. (ECPAT Bulletin, citing Observer, August 1996)




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

ECPAT International, 2007

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Several studies describe more girls in prostitution than boys, the majority of prostituted girls are aged between 14 and 18. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), “prostitution has become rife in all major towns and peri-urban areas”. In some cases, children trade sex for beer or second-hand clothing, while boys may be paid in dollars to sleep with rich widows in hotels. A number of reports indicating that boys are also being exploited in commercial sex demand further investigation and research. In a research study recently conducted by Children in Need (CHIN) – the ECPAT group in Zambia – and ECPAT International, a 15-year-old male respondent reported that boys on the street were being picked up by local men and given money for sex.

In addition to being sexually exploited in bars and guest houses, children are forced into sexual acts with teachers and school authorities in exchange for better grades or for lenient corporal punishment (although outlawed, corporal punishment is still practiced in most government schools).  Traditional beliefs and practices also contribute to child prostitution. For instance, some perpetrators seek younger children based on the belief that sex with virgins or a young child can cure them of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, sexual abuse of children by adult males is often justified or condoned, and the girl and her parents are often blamed if she is raped or prostituted. Prostituted girls are stigmatised, but not the men who exploit them. Children are also exploited through early marriages, whereby parents offer their daughters for marriage in return for a bride price, or ‘lobola’, in order to reduce the burden of an extra child to feed and educate.

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 17 January 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 - Street children are especially vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, and the problem of child prostitution is widespread in Zambia.  Zambia is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

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 - There are laws that criminalize child prostitution; however, the law was not enforced effectively, and child prostitution was widespread. The presence of an estimated 30 thousand street children in Lusaka contributed to the proliferation of street begging and prostitution. The laws against pornography and the sexual exploitation of children under the age of 21 were sporadically enforced.

Trafficking of children for sexual exploitation occurred.

During the year the government continued implementation of a strategy to provide shelter and protection to street children, including prostitutes. The Ministry of Labor reported that the majority of the five thousand children removed from child labor during the year were street children.

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