Sexual Exploitation of Children

“Our commitment is clear and strong: commercial sexual exploitation of children is wrong. It is an offence. It is a gross abuse of the rights of the child. And it will not be tolerated.”

– Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Secretary of State, Children and Youth).

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a heinous form of child abuse which takes many forms, including child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking in children. International attention was focussed on the issue at the World Congress on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm in 1996, at a follow-up conference in Yokohoma, Japan, in 2001, and at the Third Congress in Brazil in 2008. Governments and NGOs assessed progress achieved, exchanged information on lessons learned and addressed ongoing challenges.

Canada is committed to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition to a number of measures to combat the sexual exploitation of children within Canada, legislation has come into force which allows for the prosecution of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who engage in commercial sexual activities with children while abroad.

Canada was instrumental in the drafting of an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. This instrument strengthens the Convention by requiring states to criminalize these activities, making prosecution of offenders easier, and instituting measures for the protection of child victims. Canada signed the Optional Protocol in November 2001.

Canada has ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which strengthens international cooperation towards the prevention of the abduction, sale or trafficking of children, as well as the Transnational Organized Crime Convention and both of its protocols including the Optional Protocol Against Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development supports a variety of local initiatives in the developing world to attack the roots of sexual exploitation by promoting children's rights, providing protection and education, and assisting the victims of the sex trade, in order to provide families with viable alternatives. Many Canadian non-governmental organizations are also actively involved in efforts to end child sexual exploitation.

For more information: