Child Trafficking: a contemporary form of slavery
Child trafficking is a pattern of human rights
violations that is known to affect at least one
million children worldwide and probably many more.
It concerns the business of taking children away
from their homes and families, transporting them
elsewhere, often across frontiers and even to
other continents, to be used by others –
usually to make money. Trafficking in human beings
is a very lucrative business. Children can be
exploited over and over again. Those trafficking
children often go unpunished because of lack of
adequate law to prevent such activity, while trafficked
children are often penalised as illegal migrant
workers. The consequences of trafficking are devastating
for children. They are at risk of both physical
and mental damage, and are deprived of education
and basic rights.
Children are trafficked for different purposes
including commercial sexual exploitation, marriage,
adoption, slavery or bonded labour, domestic work,
begging, illicit activities and hazardous labour.
Causes of child trafficking include poverty,
globalisation and restrictions on migration, lack
of educational opportunities, discrimination,
harmful cultural practices, crisis and natural
disasters, demand for cheap labour and commercial
sex with children, and simple indifference. While
poverty is an important factor leading to child
trafficking it is not the only cause; there are
plenty of poor communities around the world whose
children are not trafficked.
Terre des Hommes strategies are aimed at developing protective mechanisms within the communities of children at risk, and ensuring the long-term reintegration of trafficked children. It researches the causes and mechanisms of child trafficking in order to provide adequate responses that really improve the lives of affected children. Terre des Hommes also works with trafficked children’s countries of origin and destination to foster bi-lateral and regional cooperation.
Terre des Hommes launched its campaign to end child trafficking in 2001. The campaign combines research and field programmes to prevent child trafficking, support for children who have been trafficked, lobbying governments for appropriate national policies, and alerting the public to the existence and scale of the problem.
After eight years of campaigning against child trafficking, Terre des Hommes is seeing visible results. Child trafficking is now firmly on the international agenda, and some national legislation has improved. The international community has also gained knowledge and experience in combating child trafficking and in protecting victims. However these outcomes remain insufficient, as they have not yet reached hundreds of thousands of trafficked children. Terre des Hommes therefore continues to provide direct aid to child victims of trafficking through 72 field projects in 40 countries, and is active at a global level to improve human rights access and standards of care for children who have been trafficked or are at risk.