Victims tend to share similar backgrounds, often coming from communities with high crime rates and lack of access to education.
Many believe that the majority of prostituted children are from Southeast Asia and the majority of their clients are Western sex tourists, but sociologist Louise Brown argues that, while Westerners contribute to the growth of the industry, most of the children's customers are Asian locals.
Prostitution of children usually occurs in environments such as brothels, bars and clubs, homes, or particular streets and areas (usually in socially run down places).
The Convention on the Rights of the Child's Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography defines the practice as "the act of obtaining, procuring or offering the services of a child or inducing a child to perform sexual acts for any form of compensation or reward".
Both emphasize that the child is a victim of exploitation, even if apparent consent is given.
All member countries of the United Nations have committed to prohibiting child prostitution, either under the Convention on the Rights of the Child or the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
Various campaigns and organizations have been created to try to stop the practice.
In these situations, the transaction typically only involves the child and the customer; children engaged in survival sex are usually not controlled or directed by pimps, madams, or other traffickers.
Any individual who pays for sex with a child, whether the child is controlled by a pimp or is engaged in survival sex, can be prosecuted.
In 2007 the UN founded United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN. In cooperation with UNICEF, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) the United Nations took a grant from the United Arab Emirates to establish UN. Their first initiative is to spread the word that human trafficking is immoral and has become a growing problem that it will take a global cooperation to cease its continuation. GIFT strives to lower the demand for this exploitation and create a safe environment for potential victims.
In cases where they are taken out of the country, traffickers prey on the fact that the children are often unable to understand the language of their new location and are unaware of their legal rights.
Research suggests that there may be as many as 10 million children involved in prostitution worldwide.