GENEVA, March 1 -- A U.N. human rights report said Friday that the sale of children for prostitution has increased in areas of the world where poverty is prevalent, with an estimated 1 million children working in the sex industry in Asia and up to 300,000 in the United States. The report, compiled by the U.N. Human Rights Commission's investigator for child prostitution and child pornography, said prostitutes in Asia work in conditions that are indistinguishable from slavery, with many being sold by their parent into sex rings that often involve corrupt policemen and politicians. 'There are also reports that in some countries, many daughters are sold to distant brothels by parents, simply for the cash,' Ofelia Calcetas-Santos wrote in her report. One 14-year-old girl was reportedly sold to a brothel by her sister. After a week she wanted to go home but was persuaded by the brothel owner to remain for the money. In North American neighborhoods infested with drugs, there are reports of parents who sell their children for a few dollars or in exchange for drugs. The U.N. investigator said that according to a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, there are up to 300,000 child prostitutes on the streets of the United States, many only 11 or 12 years of age and some as young as 9. The U.N. report said that while men are the most common exploiters of child prostitutes, an increasing number of female pedophiles are being found.
One British researcher quoted in the report estimated that there are some 50,000 pedophiles operating in the United States and about 500, 000 worldwide. One Australian pedophile documented in the report claimed to have had sex with 2,500 boys. Another study conducted by Prof. Gene Abel of the Emory University of Medicine in the United States found that 403 people had exploited 67,000 children, 63 percent of whom were boys. The report said that while the increasing demand for children in the sexual market is difficult to assess, Calcetas-Santos attributed it mostly to fear of AIDS, and the often mistaken perception that younger prostitutes are less likely to be afflicted by it. The report will be submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Commission annual general assembly which begins meeting later this month.