Child exploitation cited in Guatemala by U.N. expert

In spite of protection measures by the Guatemalan Government, many children are still victims of sexual exploitation and forced labor, a United Nations independent expert warned today.

“Many children are still victims of sexual exploitation and forced labour in Guatemala despite the laudable efforts carried out to prevent and combat the sale of children for illegal adoption,” said the special rapporteur on child trafficking, prostitution and child pornography, Najay Maalla M’jid, at the end of a 10-day visit to the country.

“The phenomenon of sexually exploited girls in prostitution is very worrying, as well as the large number of young mothers that have been sexually abused by relatives and the absence of sexual education that does not inform children of the inherent risks of sexual relations and early pregnancies,” she added in a news release from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ms. Maalla M’jid underlined that it is still difficult to determine the extent of the trafficking and exploitation of children due to the lack of systematic denunciations, as people fear stigmatization and retaliation.

She also noted a lack of access to mechanisms that guarantee rapid protection and security for victims outside the capital, Guatemala City, pointing out that there is a transnational dimension to the issue which translates into using minors for sexual tourism, online pornography and organized crime.

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