What Is ‘Survival Sex?’

What Is ‘Survival Sex?’

Children are compelled to render “survival sex” in order to pay people smugglers who promised to transport them to safety from Syria to Europe, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has learned.


As if escaping heavy conflicted zones was not enough of an ordeal, these refugee and migrant children are also being sexually abused in overcrowded reception sites, parks, train stations, bus stations and roadsides, the agency has found.

“From testimony and reports we have received there have been instances of children engaging in survival sex to pay smugglers to continue their journey, either because they have run out money, or because they have been robbed,” UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a news conference in Geneva.

The agency said that the information was based on credible accounts. Fleming stressed that the risk of sexual abuse and exploitation are especially high for unaccompanied children as well as those children placed in detention in some countries.

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Migrant women traveling on their own are also never safe from these abuses. Some of them were victimized along routes and reception centers that are overcrowded, dark and has no separate areas for single women and families with children.

UNHCR now calls for national authorities in Europe to safeguard the women and children travelling. The agency is calling to make all necessary measure in order to uphold safety in refugee centers. UNHCR is calling for countries to address the issue “as a matter of urgency.”

A separate report from the agency said that arrivals of refugees in Greece have now passed the half-million mark, the last of which was 8,000 people arriving on the Aegean Islands. The spike in arrivals was sparked by people’s desperation to reached Western Europe as soon as possible, fearing that borders are closing anytime soon.