Regulating Sex: The Politics of Intimacy and Identity

By Elizabeth Bernstein; Laurie Schaffner | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 10

From Identity to Acronym:

How “Child Prostitution” Became “CSEC”

PENELOPE SAUNDERS

The Second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) held in December 2001 constituted an international reunion of key stakeholders concerned with ending child prostitution and similar abuses of children in the global sexual marketplace. The themes of the Congress regarding child protection, law enforcement, and the nature of the sex exploiter represent more than two decades of engagement of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with children's rights reflecting the aim of preventing commercialized sexual activity. 1 Documents produced at the World Congresses have allowed the NGO sector to pressure nation-states to change their conceptualizations of the commercial sexual abuse of children and rewrite local legislation and policy to reflect these new human rights concerns. This chapter traces the emergence of CSEC as the framework encompassing phenomena that are known individually as child prostitution, child pornography, and trafficking in children. A primary goal of this chapter is to consider how NGO practice, research, report writing, and dissemination of information in various media, have fashioned images of the victims of CSEC that not only bolster public sympathy for their cause, but also for a particular formulation of children's rights.

Anthropological and historical research reveal that childhood and what constitutes the child itself are socially constructed (Nieuwenhuys 1996). The notion that children are fundamentally distinct from adults and should be protected from spheres of commerce and sexual activity is pivotal to NGO

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