Content warning: This article on child prostitution discusses the sensitive and distressing topic of child prostitution. We acknowledge that children involved in prostitution are victims of exploitation and abuse. Their well-being and protection are of utmost importance. We advise you that this article may contain graphic descriptions of violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation. It may be triggering for some readers, especially those who have experienced similar trauma. We advise reader discretion.
Child prostitution is a disturbing and heartbreaking issue that affects many countries, including Australia. Despite being illegal, this crime continues to occur in New South Wales (NSW) and other parts of the country.
According to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), a person who:
- promotes or engages in acts of child prostitution,
- obtains a benefit from it, or
- uses premises for such crime,
commits the crime.
In this article, we will discuss sections 91C to 91F of the Act and the consequences for those involved in this crime.
What Is Child Prostitution?
An “act of child prostitution” under section 91C means any sexual service, whether or not involving an indecent act:
- that is provided by a child for the payment of money or the provision of any other material thing (whether or not it is in fact paid or provided to the child or to any other person), and
- that one can reasonably consider to be aimed at the sexual arousal or sexual gratification of a person or persons other than the child,
- which includes (but is not limited to) sexual activity between persons of different sexes or the same sex, comprising sexual intercourse for payment or masturbation committed by one person on another for payment, engaged in by a child.
An individual is a “child” if he or she is under the age of 18 years.
Promoting or Engaging in Acts of Child Prostitution
Section 91D also prohibits the promotion or engagement in acts of child prostitution. It stipulates that any person who performs the following acts is liable to imprisonment for 10 years:
- by any means, causes or induces a child to participate in the criminal act, or
- participates as a client with a child in such act.
Note that if the child is under the age of 14 years, the offender is liable to imprisonment for 14 years Moreover, the consent of a child is not a defence to a charge relating to an offence under this section.
Obtaining Benefit From Child Prostitution
Aside from the promotion and engagement of the said acts, obtaining benefit from child prostitution is also punishable. Section 91E provides that:
- Any person who receives money or any other material benefit knowing that it is derived directly or indirectly from the criminal act.
A person found guilty of this act is liable to imprisonment for 10 years or, if the criminal act involves a child under the age of 14 years, to imprisonment for 14 years.
- A person is not guilty of an offence under this section if the person satisfies the court that the money or other material benefit concerned:
- was received by the person for the lawful provision of goods or services, or
- was paid or provided in accordance with a judgment or an order of a court or a legislative requirement, whether or not under New South Wales law.
If a child is under 14 years of age, authorities must establish the specific age of the child in the charge for the offence in order to avail the higher maximum penalty under this section.
Who Has Lawful Control of Premises Used for Child Prostitution?
Section 91F of this Act clearly sets out the individuals who has lawful control of a property or building. It states that any person who is capable of exercising lawful control over premises at which a child participates in an act of child prostitution is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
Moreover, the following persons may be capable of exercising lawful control over the premises, whether or not any other person is capable of exercising lawful control over the premises:
- An owner, lessee, licensee or occupier of premises,
- A person concerned in the management of premises or in controlling the entry of persons to, or their movement within, premises.
However, this rule is not absolute. The defendant will not be guilty of the crime if he or she satisfies the court:
- that the person did not know about the act, or
- that the person did not know that a child was participating in the act or, for any other reason, did not know that the act was a criminal act that is punishable under the previous sections, or
- that the person used all due diligence to prevent the child from participating in the act.
Child Prostitution Cases
- Childcare worker in Australia
Ninety-one children from 12 different childcare centres in Sydney had been victims of a former childcare worker in Australia. This has been described as one of the worst child sex abuse cases in the country’s history.
Authorities have charged the 45-year-old man with 1,623 separate offences, including 136 counts of rape, 110 counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10 and 613 counts of producing child exploitation material according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
- International child abuse network
In 2020, BBC reported that the Australian police rescued 46 children and arrested 14 men after an investigation into the network. The 14 men faced a total of 828 child exploitation charges.
Authorities arrested a 30-year-old male in February in the northern Sydney town of Wyong as a result of the inquiry. He faced accusations of 89 crimes, two of which involved child abuse.
In addition, authorities arrested three people in Queensland and Western Australia, and apprehended eight men in New South Wales. Police withheld information about their investigations abroad.
Seek Legal Advice From a Criminal Offence Lawyer
Are you facing accusation of a crime? Or do you want to file charges against child abusers? If so, time is of the essence. Our criminal offence lawyers at JB Solicitors have the skills, knowledge, and strategy to provide assistance to you. Contact us today for a consultation.