Sexual exploitation is often defined as the sexual abuse of children and youth through the exchange of sex or sexual acts for food, drugs, shelter, protection, other basics of life, and/or money. This kind of exploitation also includes involving children and youth in creating pornography and sexually explicit websites.1

We believe sexual exploitation extends beyond just youth and children. It also applies to any man or woman who is forced to perform sexual acts for any of the reasons listed above. When vulnerability is used for the exchange of sex or sexual acts, sexual exploitation has occurred. Many individuals are lured, forced, or tricked into being sexually exploited.2 Others have faced poverty, homelessness, and addiction, and may choose to trade sex for survival.

When vulnerability is used for the exchange of sex or sexual acts, sexual exploitation has occurred.

Individuals who are sexually exploited may also meet the criteria for human trafficking. Human trafficking can be broken down when a trafficker takes action (what is done) against another person by using at least one means (how it’s done), for the purpose (why it’s done) of exploiting that person for financial or material gain. When all three elements are present, a person has been trafficked. With sexual exploitation, an action and means does not have to occur, but often do.

The United Nations defines trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harbouring of people. Traffickers do this by means of threat, use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power, abuse of vulnerability, or the giving or receiving of payments. This is in order to achieve the consent of a person having control of another person, resulting in prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation.3

1 Sexual Exploitation Toolkit, Justice Institute of BC, 20082 Section 212(4) Canadian Criminal Code, Justice Law Website, 20163 Human Trafficking, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2016

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