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Child Sexual Exploitation

Volume 579: debated on Monday 28 April 2014

21. What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of existing legislation for tackling child sexual exploitation. (903706)

The coalition Government remains committed to ensuring that all necessary legislation is in place to tackle child sexual abuse. I welcome the hon. Member’s recent inquiry into this issue. I am reassured by the inquiry’s conclusion that there was no evidence to show that justice could not be served owing to the lack of a specific child sexual exploitation offence. The inquiry report made a number of wider recommendations which are now being actively considered.

There are currently 16 pieces of legislation that use the term “child prostitute”. I have spoken to young people who have been victims of child sexual exploitation, and they say the expression makes them feel dirty and complicit. Will the Minister commit to introducing a process to remove this term from the law?

I am very sympathetic to that suggestion. Children who are sexually exploited, whether for commercial or other reasons, should not be referred to as prostitutes. They are victims. We will consider references in all legislation and guidance as opportunities arise, as well as considering carefully the wording used in any new legislation or guidance.