Fear that drives men to child sex

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The spread of HIV and Aids has led to increasing sexual exploitation of young people as men seek out children, whom they believe are free from the virus, writes Glenda Cooper.

The British charity Save the Children called on governments around the world to strengthen laws against child prostitution in advance of the first World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, which will take place in Stockholm from 27-31 August.

The charity's report, Kids For Hire, said growing numbers of children were involved in the sex industry in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, encompassing prostitution, child trafficking and pornography.

Poverty is a critical factor, the charity said, with some girls having no other recourse but to fall back on prostitution. In Thailand alone, the estimated number of children in commercial sex work ranges from 20,000 to 800,000, a spokeswoman said.