We support Ann Coffey’s amendments to remove the term ‘child prostitute’ from legislation
We are very pleased to see Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, tabling amendements to the Serious Crime Bill which would see the term ‘child prostitute’ removed from legislation. We have been campaigning to see the removal of the term from language for several years now. The term ‘child prostitute’ suggests consent – that the child made an active, conscious choice to engage in sexual activity where payment is received for said activity. The argument for the use of the term is that the inclusion of ‘child’ negates consent. This is not how the term is used in popular discourse. It is quite clear that those using the term, particularly in the media and the reports into the systemic abuse of young girls in Rotherham, believe that children can consent to their own grooming and sexual exploitation. When the term ‘child prostitute’ is used, the perpetrators are erased. There are multiple perpetrators involved in the sexual exploitation of children, most of whom are girls. These perpetrators include the men who groom the child, the men who act as ‘pimps’ and those who purchase the body of a child for rape. We need to focus on the perpetrators, not blame their victims.
Child sexual exploitation is endemic in the UK – it occurs in every single town in the country. Terms which suggest that children can consent to their own sexual exploitation assist perpetrators in denying responsibility and blame children for their own exploitation. ‘Child prostitution’ is not a choice children make. We need to clearly name the abuse– a ‘child raped by men who pay for this service’, 'prostituted child' or child sexual exploitation. We need to stop using euphemistic language that results in the collusion of the rape of children.