Child trafficking is defined as the illegal migration/transfer or movement of children for the purpose of exploiting them sexually or for labor. The child may be moved across international borders or within a country. According to UNICEF, a child is any person below the age of 18. The history of child trafficking goes far back in history where acts such as selling children as slaves or prostitutes due to poverty; occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries. The vulnerability of children is exploited in their movement. They may not have an adult to take care of them, or they may have adults who are negligent, and consequently the children fall prey to traffickers.
The exploitation the children undergo may be labor or sexual. Labor exploitation involves forcing children to work or take part in activities that are similar to slavery, debt bondage or armed conflict. Moreover, children may be used for drug trafficking. Sexual exploitation involves using children to take part in sexual acts, especially prostitution and child porn.
Data from the International Labor Organization estimates the existence of 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally. Of these, 5.5 million are children while 55% is women and girls. In addition, the International Labor Organization also states that the forced labor and human trafficking industry is a $150 billion industry around the world. More data from the International Labor Organization states that over 100,000 children are used as sex slaves in the United States annually.
The main factors that promote the prevalence of child trafficking is high profits and the low risk. The child trafficking industry is a criminal market whose foundations are based on the principles of supply and demand, just like the drug trade and illegal arms trade. Annually, traffickers benefit billions of dollars in profit from the abuse of millions of children globally.
The most vulnerable children are children from broken homes, abusive homes, orphans with none or negligent relations, runaway kids, homeless youth and victims of social discrimination. The victims have diverse backgrounds in terms of age, race, and education. They are lured by false promises or coerced by force or brutality.
Traffickers use force or lie to their victims. The victims are then ensnared and used to the traffickers convenience. Most of the time the traffickers are similar to the victim in terms of race or cultural background that gives them information on how to best lure their victims. Traffickers can be individuals or criminal gangs with connections rooted far and wide in the industry.
Signs of Child Trafficking
A child being forced to perform sexual acts or work in commercial ventures is a red flag. They are not free or are restrained in their movement and interaction with other people. In addition, they may be highly supervised and physically abused.
Combating Child Trafficking
Fighting the vice of child trafficking needs efforts of the public and the government hand in hand. The public need to on the lookout for signs of children under exploitation and report their concerns to the authorities. In addition, members of the public need to take care of the children in society for they are vulnerable to negligent parents or guardians and crafty traffickers. The government needs to tighten the noose on traffickers' necks by enforcing stringent regulation concerning the exploitation of children. Moreover, the government needs to empower law enforcers with better resources to tackle the vice.
UNICEF. (n.d.). UNICEF | Childrens Rights & Emergency Relief Organization. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/
UNODC. (n.d.). Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Retrieved from http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/global-report-on-trafficking-in-persons.html
US Department of State. (n.d.). 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking. Retrieved from http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/
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