Human trafficking has been one of the most vile and remarkable ways that humans have been exploited since the beginning of time. What human trafficking is, essentially, is the placement of value on a human being in order to trade them for some other benefit. Humans are bought and sold for exploitation for sex, organ extraction, slave labor, and even marriage. Human trafficking is largely considered one of the most heinous violations of a human beings right to life. Now take that incredibly awful definition and apply it to children. Child trafficking is a profitable and deplorable business that is happening all over the globe.
Only our awareness can serve as a way to stop child trafficking now. To become aware you must be willing to learn all of the damage that child trafficking has caused.
What is child trafficking?
The dictionary definition of child trafficking alludes to the “abduction, or recruitment, and consequent transferring and selling of a child for the purpose of exploitation”. As we outlined above, child trafficking statistics show that children are bought and sold by the millions every single year for the purpose of sketchy, illegal reasons. According to the International Labour Organization, there are an estimated 1.2 million children trafficked every single year. This number is based on research, but it is still just a guess. Let’s dig a little bit deeper into what makes this so much worse, and even legally different, than human trafficking.
Is there a legal difference between child and adult trafficking?
According to the Palermo Protocols, instilled by the 2000 United Nations, there is significant definition and legal difference between trafficking children and adults. The definition for the trafficking of children maintains that the child is under 18 years of age, the American age of majority. The document reads that the age of majority may be changed depending on the country that ends up handling the case. Let’s dig into the different forms of trafficking that are invoked on a daily basis all across the globe.
What are the major forms of child trafficking?
Now that we have an understanding of how widespread the abduction, relocation, and purchase of children is, we can look into understanding it on a deeper level. Not all child trafficking stories are the same. While there is child sex trafficking in China or forced marriage child trafficking in India, the experiences are different. Listed below are the major forms of trafficking that plague our planet.
Child Labour Trafficking
This type of trafficking involves the forced, and coerced, use of child labor without pay and, in many instances, any sort of regard for the health and well being of the children. According to UNICEF, in 2011 there were 150 million children, aged from 5 to 14, that were forced to work without a wage while living in developing countries. The types of work that children have been trafficked to complete are all very hazardous. Whether these children are forced to work in the trade of drugs or sex, the outcome is the same. Notable American corporations such as Nike and Gap have been found to have employed sweatshop workers.
Child Sex Workers
Perhaps the most notorious of all child trafficking cases are those that involve the sexual exploitation of minors. The United Nations adopted the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ back in 2000. It expressly forbids any nation to sell children for prostitution or the production of child pornography. Despite this ban, the debased nature of this crime still persists. According to the International Labour Organization there could be as many as 1.8 million children being trafficked for the purpose of sex worldwide. Young female children who are stuck in other forms of child labour are the most common targets for sexual traffickers. Research notes that child sex traffickers aim for young girls “age 12 and under” due to how malleable and easy to train that they are.
The Joseph Kony outrage back in 2012 briefly brought to light the true plight of children being trafficked solely for the purpose of fighting a war that they could not understand. In the same Convention that we mentioned above, the UN banned the conscription of children aged 18 and under for the armed forces. According to the ILO, there are an estimated ‘tens of thousands’ of children being forced to join different armies throughout a reported 17 countries every single year. These children are typically forced to work as either combatants or messengers while in hostile territory. The job is dangerous and many children end up killed while forcibly serving.
Child Drug Trade
The final type of trafficking on our list involves the illicit drug trade. Many children are pulled into the illegal underground drug trade right off of the streets. These children are forced to help carry the drugs around or sell them directly to customers. The people running the racket then pay these child workers in drugs, further reinforcing their reliance upon their ‘boss’. A famous example has been the use of Afghan children in the trade of heroin. There are also specific stories of children being involved in the Brazilian drug trade. These children are at a higher risk of being murdered or forced to partake in violence than their peers. Many of the children that are conscripted into the trade end up being in it for life before perpetuating it onto a new batch of victims.
How do children get caught up in child trafficking?
It is easy to look at the above information and think, ‘These children must have done something unusual to become targets for trafficking.’ The truth is, these children lived the lives that were set out before them. Studies show that children from low income areas are more likely to end up being bought and sold on the human market. The buying and selling of these children disrupts the way that they were supposed to grow up and causes a chain of problems that continues down to their children and so on. Children that have survived being trafficked typically don’t have the proper education that they need to get their future children out of these risky areas. The ladder that every person yearns to climb is particularly greased near these bottom rungs.
What can be done to stop trafficking?
According to studies by UNICEF and the ILO, the most effective way to combat child trafficking is by focusing on saving those who are currently embroiled in the system, their future rehabilitation, and the punishment of the criminals that pulled them into the trafficking ring. The United States spearheaded their attack against child trafficking by putting the ‘U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000‘ into place. This act prevents ‘victims of severe trafficking from being inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or penalized” for the acts that they were forced to commit. Outside of this legislative act, the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review says that we should follow the ‘three P’s’:
The protection of children needs to be attacked on a national level by every country on the planet. In order to protect children, laws need to be put in place that attack both trafficking and begging (which is a common labor for trafficked children).
Laws need to be put in place on a global level that harshly prosecute those that partake in child trafficking. These laws should become a deterrent and a punishment all at once. The punishment for those involved in trafficking should be levied at the exploiter and not the ones being used. Such strict laws would need to be carefully put in place so as to delicately work around such gray areas as family tracking. Begging needs to also be criminalized completely. Though the act of giving money to a needy child seems great, it actually just legitimizes the abduction for more children due to the profitability of the job.
In order to prevent child trafficking, you have to keep children out of harm’s way. This means that there needs to be a renewed focus on keeping children off of the streets and back in school. Children who get their education and stay out of trouble while outside of school run a much smaller risk of being abducted and sold into the child trafficking trade.
Child trafficking is a pockmark upon the face of society because it magnifies the worst in humanity. Children are our future and the way that they are treated is both negligent and disgraceful. In order to put a stop to these sorts of acts there needs to be swift action from people all over the world.