Chris Blattman

38% of women in Monrovia report being paid for sex by United Nations personnel, and more than half the women were under 18

In 2003, the U.N. banned its peacekeepers from engaging in transactional sex (the exchange of money or anything of value for sex). Despite this ban, our survey of 475 18- to 30-year-old women in greater Monrovia revealed that about half of them report having engaged in transactional sex, and within that group of women, over three-quarters report having done so with U.N. personnel. Over 90 percent of the women who have engaged in transactional sex report that they usually receive money in exchange. And underage girls are at particular risk: 58 percent of the women who report the age at which they engaged in their first sexual transaction say they were younger than 18.

That is Bernd Beber, Michael Gilligan, Jenny Guardado, and Sabrina Karim in the Washington Post. You should read the full article for details.

Before beating up on the U.N. specifically, I can believe peacekeeping missions are bigger buyers of sex than, say, NGO workers or an American or European military mission. But I’m not sure by a lot. Unfortunately the survey doesn’t say. This is probably a bigger problem than anyone realizes and it is not confined to the U.N.

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