According to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have the right be protected from violence. The reality is that countless boys and girls around the world are victims of various forms of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. As such, World Vision has made protecting children a priority and has programming around the world to help prevent, protect, and respond to issues that violate children’s rights. These include child labour, sexual abuse and exploitation, armed violence, and child trafficking.
Child trafficking occurs when a child has been moved within a country, or across international borders, whether by force or not, with the purpose of exploiting the child. Tragically, no country, including Canada, is immune to this phenomenon.
The child trafficking industry satisfies a market demand for cheap, easily controlled labour. Kids can be pulled into work when poverty, natural disaster or armed conflict pushes them to work outside their homes in order to survive or to help provide for their families.
Traffickers prey on poor and uneducated people, especially children, because it’s easier to abuse their rights. While families may believe they are providing their children with a better life, or continuing a cultural tradition, trafficked children are often vulnerable to severe physical, sexual and psychological abuse, arrest, dangerous working conditions and long hours.
Ways trafficked children are exploited
- Forced and bonded labour (where people are required to repay a debt by working for those who gave them the loan), as seen with restaveks (forced child domestic servants) in Haiti
- Pressed into solider duty in armed conflicts, such as the boys and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo who both fight and serve armed groups
- Sexual exploitation, such as that experienced by young girls in brothels in Cambodia
- Illicit activities, like the involvement of children in the illegal drug trade and organized crime in some Latin American countries
- Child marriage, as experienced by some girls in Afghanistan
Addressing the issue
World Vision’s human trafficking work prevents and mitigates the effects of trafficking by raising awareness, educating children and their communities, providing shelter and care for victims and speaking out about exploitation. World Vision is partnering with governments, law enforcement agencies, other organizations and children to address this abuse.
The victims of human trafficking often don’t understand their rights, and are sometimes afraid to go to police. As a result, accurate official statistics are hard to come by, so experts make estimates based on what they do know.
- Human trafficking is estimated to make annual profits of approximately US$31.6 billion; it’s the third highest grossing sector of organized crime, after drugs and arms
- An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year for labour and sexual exploitation
- An estimated 5.7 million children are trapped in forced and bonded labour
- Canada is both a source and destination for human trafficking; it’s also a transit point for trafficking to and from the US and other countries.