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No research shows there are 30,000 child prostitutes in South Africa

This article is more than 8 years old

newage_prostitutes“30,000 child prostitutes in SA”, “half are younger than 14” and “there are up to 10,000 child prostitutes in Johannesburg.

These claims appeared in an infographic in South Africa’s The New Age newspaper on Tuesday.  The newspaper credited “World Hope South Africa”, but Africa Check was unable to trace the original source of the claims.

However, estimates like these appear regularly in South African media. Reported estimates included 20,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 100,000 children trafficked for prostitution during South Africa’s 2010 Soccer World Cup. Reporters rarely interrogate the source of the information, or whether it is supported by evidence.

When Africa Check investigated in 2013, we found no evidence to support the claim that there were 30,000 child prostitutes in the country or that half of child prostitutes were younger than 14.

No nationally representative study of child prostitution in South Africa has been conducted to date, but local studies do provide some insight. A 2008 study into sex work and human trafficking in Cape Town found only five sex workers under the age of 18 over a 16 month period.

There is no research that supports the claim, Marlise Richter told Africa Check. She is a senior member of Sonke Gender Justice, a civil society organisation promoting gender equality, which is partnered with SWEAT, the Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce.

“I am not aware of any defensible study on child prostitution in South Africa,” Richter said. “We need decent research into the issue.”

Research on child prostitution in South Africa is sparse and the true figure is unknown. But there is no evidence to suggest that there are 30,000 child prostitutes in the country, that half of them are younger than 14 or that Johannesburg has 10,000 child prostitutes. - 13/08/2015


Additional Reading

Are 30,000 children really ‘trafficked’ in South Africa every year? The claim exaggerates the problem

No new evidence that 30,000 children are trafficked in South Africa each year

FACTSHEET: Understanding human trafficking

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