2018’s Worst Countries for Child Soldiers
Every year, the U.S. Department of State issues its Trafficking in Persons Report. This report gives an overview of each country’s progress against trafficking and what the United States is doing to eliminate human trafficking across the globe. One form of human trafficking is the use of child soldiers. Child soldiers are individuals under the age of 18 used for any military purpose, whether that be for acts of violence and killing, or even as cooks, messengers, spies or porters. Since 2016, over 18 different military conflicts around the world involved child soldiers.

The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report includes a list of governments implicit in the use of child soldiers, and under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA), the United States restricts military support for countries listed. This article will provide an overview of child recruitment and use in each country on the Child Soldiers Prevention Act List.

10 Countries That Use Child Soldiers

  1. Myanmar – Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, has a long history of using child soldiers in warfare. The highest rate of child recruitment took place from 1990 to 2005. However, in 2012, the country signed an Action Plan with the U.N. to end the use of child soldiers. Since then, 849 children and young adults have been released. Though Myanmar has a long way to go to completely eradicate child soldiers in the country, the government is working to align tribal groups and the Tatmadaw with the U.N.’s Action Plan.

  2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo – The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) also signed an Action Plan with the U.N. in 2012 and the government has since stopped recruiting child soldiers into its military. Before 2012, children ages 8 to 16-years-old made up about 60 percent of the military. Now, the main problem with child recruitment in the DRC is girls who are used as “wives” and “escorts” for the soldiers. At least one-third of all child soldiers in the DRC are girls, though only 7 percent have been released since the signing of the Action Plan. In 2019, Child Soldiers International helped 245 of these girls go back to school, including Neema, who said, “if we could go to school, the community would be nicer to us, we would get some consideration, that would help a lot.” Organizations, such as the National Action Group, conduct outreach work to help child soldiers in the DRC appropriate back into their communities. With their support, child soldiers and military “wives” can avoid the stigmatization and persecution that comes with being a child soldier.

  3. Iran – Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, spoke out against the use of child soldiers in Iran, saying, “The use of child soldiers is a moral outrage that every civilized nation rejects while Iran celebrates it. Iran’s economy is increasingly devoted to funding Iranian repression at home and aggression abroad. Iranian big business and finance are funding the war crime of using child soldiers.” Her comments came in the midst of the United States’ political maneuvering against Iran’s use of child soldiers. The Iranian military, especially the Basij Resistance Force, has had a long history of using child soldiers. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the Basij used child soldiers to clear minefields ahead of the military. With the U.S. hard on their heels, Iranian rights activists hope that this will be a wake-up call and end the use of child soldiers in Iran.

  4. Iraq – In 2017, there were 109 confirmed cases of child soldier recruitment in Iraq, 59 of which were attributed to ISIL or ISIS. Children were used as suicide bombers, combatants, bomb manufactures and “wives” for soldiers. Many different military organizations in Iraq use “volunteer” child soldiers, but under international law, non-state armed groups cannot recruit children under 18 under any circumstances. Children’s Rights Director at Human Rights Watch, Zama Coursen-Neff, said, “The PKK [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party] should categorically denounce the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and commanders in affiliated armed groups should know that the recruitment and use of children under age 15 constitute war crimes. Boys and girls should be with their families and going to school, not used as means to military ends.” The U.N. is ready to provide support to the Iraqi government as they develop and implement reintegration services for children formally used as child soldiers.

  5. Mali – Stephane Dujarric, a U.N. spokesperson, proclaimed good news for a few child soldiers in Mali, saying, “Nine child combatants were handed over to the U.N. mission in Kidal this morning. The mission is… making arrangements for their care by child protection officials pending reunification with their family.” There were 159 documented cases of child soldier recruitment in 2017, but Mali is taking steps in the right direction. After signing an Action Plan with the U.N. in March of 2017, the military began screening their troops to identify children. However, the country failed to implement other aspects of the Action Plan. On Feb 1, 2018, Mali’s government endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, which protects the use of educational facilities in military training or conflict.

  6. Nigeria – Boko Haram is also a problem for child soldiers in Nigeria, accounting for 1,092 cases of child recruitment. However, this number has decreased by almost 50 percent in the past two years, due to the loss of territory by Boko Haram. In 2018, more than 900 children were freed from Boko Haram, some as young as 7-years-old. UNICEF spokesman, Christophe Boulierac, said, “This is a significant milestone in ending the recruitment and use of children, but many more children remain in the ranks of other armed groups in either combat or support roles. We call on all parties to stop recruiting children and let children be children.” Nigeria signed an Action Plan with the U.N. in September of 2017, and since then, more than 8,700 children have been rehabilitated back into their communities.

  7. Somalia – Warlord Al Shabaab is the biggest threat to child soldiers in Somalia, enlisting 70 percent of the 2,217 children recruited throughout the country. More than 50 percent of Al Shabaab’s army are children under the age of 18. Col. Bonny Bamwiseki, commander of Battle Group XXII of the Uganda contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia, explained another problem of child soldiers: “Some of these boys are children of this struggle and so they become part of it.” With clan warfare and the threat of Al Shabaab all around them, many children “volunteer” to protect their families and their homes.

  8. South Sudan – South Sudan became the 168th country to sign a U.N. treaty to end the use of child soldiers.  On Sept 27, 2018, ambassadors from South Sudan met with U.N. officials to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC). In the past five years, more than 19,000 children have been recruited by armed groups in South Sudan, but now the government is working to demobilize all child soldiers throughout the country and offer support for their recovery. Progress will be slow and difficult, but the U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba noted, “Today, the Government of South Sudan is making an important promise to its children that they will take all possible measures to protect them from recruitment and use by both its armed forces and armed groups active in the country.”

  9. Syria – The number of child soldiers has been increasing yearly in Syria, now reaching 851 verified cases of recruitment and use of children in the military. While Syria has not worked with the U.N. to implement an Action Plan or OPAC, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria, issued a military order banning the recruitment of children under 18. This military order requires SDF officers to transfer children to educational facilities, end salary payments to children, hear and receive complaints of child recruitment, and take measures against soldiers who fail to obey these orders. Though the number of cases of child soldiers in Syria has increased, these measures will help prevent fight the use of child soldiers in 2019.

  10. Yemen – According to the U.N., the Yemen civil war is one of the worst humanitarian crisis, killing more than 85,000 children. The war left families destitute, and many send their children off to fight in exchange for money. Children make up between 20 and 40 percent of Yemen military units, and since 2015, there have been 2,369 verified cases of child recruitment. There are currently more than 6,000 suspected child soldiers across the country, and more than 20,000 children who are in need of rehabilitation after the war. While many Yemeni officials deny the use of child soldiers or call the reports “exaggerated,” the U.N. is working to give people knowledge of this “child’s war” and reduce the number of child soldiers in Yemen.

The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report hopes to raise awareness of the use of child soldiers around the world, and encourage people to respond and make a change. The information is overwhelmingly negative, but there have been many positives since 2017. For example is that Sudan has been removed from the Child Soldiers Prevention Act List, as the U.S. Department of State believes that they have improved in regulating the use of child soldiers.

– Natalie Dell
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Human Trafficking in Africa
A theft of human life and an exchange of money for someone’s dignity: this is what makes up the horrific crime of human trafficking.  Human trafficking is an ever-present issue across the globe, and the number of victims the number of victims rises each year. While there are countless contributing factors, the causes of human trafficking in Africa are particularly alarming.

Human trafficking is a prevalent issue in Africa, where law enforcement agencies often lack resources that are readily available in other countries. This results in police officers with less training and funding and makes it difficult for police to properly execute in cross-border intelligence causing a larger amount of human trafficking.

More than 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually and many victims of human trafficking migrants are from Somalia and Eritrea which means that international communication is crucial. One of the causes of human trafficking in Africa can be linked to law enforcement that lacks the training to cooperate with neighboring countries in order to prevent and interrupt this crime.

Human traffickers often seek the most vulnerable populations. In South Africa, an estimated 30,000 children are trafficked each year. Furthermore, in countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ghana, girls as young as eight years old are sold as brides.

Immigrants that are attempting to reach Europe, the Middle East and Italy are often left vulnerable. In 2016, of 11,000 women arriving in Italy in search of a better life, 80 percent were from Nigeria, and many will likely be forced into prostitution and become sex trafficking victims.

However, there is also progress being made to combat this crime. Technology is quickly advancing and in Nigeria, it is being used to stop trafficking. In 2003, a Nigerian app called ‘iReport’ launched, allowing people to report human trafficking across the country. To date, iReport has secured 359 cases.

Kenya has also taken strides in efforts to resist and combat human trafficking. In 2014, Victim Protection Bill was passed, helping to provide support to victims and increasing convictions by building a stronger prosecution case. Since many victims are terrified of their attackers, this bill provides safety for those that want to prosecute or come forward.

While the causes of human trafficking in Africa are complex, there is clear progress being made to address them. Nations are constantly developing new solutions to combat human trafficking and support victims of these crimes.

– Emme Chadwick
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Pakistan
At only 15 years of age, a Pakistani girl named Zunaira Muhammad was forced into slavery and this was the price she paid for her dreams of becoming a software engineer and having an education. This happened when a kindly neighbor promised to pay for Zunaira’s education if she would come live with her and do some household chores. Unwittingly, Zunaira’s mother agreed. Zunaira went to live with her neighbor, Ayesha Ashfaq. Instead of providing a little girl with an education, Ashfaq lured Zunaira to Dubai, forced her to work in a beauty parlor, sold her into sex slavery, and tortured her when she resisted. After she managed to escape she said that her whole life is destroyed as she cannot pursue studies due to the stigma attached to her.

Zunaira is only one story among millions of young people, especially young girls, who are kidnapped, trafficked and sold into slavery around the world. There are about 46 million people living in slavery today, and over 3 million of them are enslaved in Pakistan, making it rank eight in the Global Slavery Index. In the text below, the top five facts to know about human trafficking in Pakistan are presented.

Five Facts About Human Trafficking in Pakistan

  1. In 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, Pakistan was upgraded in Tier 2 by the U.S. Department of State. This means that the government of Pakistan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is still making significant efforts to do so. For example, the government increased the number of victims it identified and intensified its investigations into sex trafficking and prosecutions of human trafficking workers. At the same time, the government efforts are inadequate compared to the scale of the problem. The biggest issue is corrupt officials. However, the government does not hold officials accountable or investigate into allegations of trafficking by officials. These problems, along with the extent of human trafficking in Pakistan, keep Pakistan at Tier 2.
  2. Pakistan’s largest human trafficking problem is bonded labor. During bonded labor, a worker assumes an initial debt, but as they work, the debt gets bigger and bigger so they can never pay it off. In this way, it entraps other family members, sometimes lasting for generations. Other human trafficking problems in Pakistan include prostitution slavery, forced marriages, child soldiers, manual labor and forced begging. Forced begging is a situation in which traffickers make children beg on the streets to earn money, sometimes even maiming them to gain sympathy money. Trafficking rings have a structured system in place for each of these crimes, including selling victims in a physical market.
  3. In 2012, 823 victims of human trafficking in Pakistan sought help in shelters. Three-quarters of these victims were female and 60 of them were minors. According to Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, 30 to 35 traffickers operate in Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province. In 2012, 40 officials were under investigation, one was dismissed, and 33 were punished for complicity in human trafficking. Currently, the estimated number of Pakistani people living in slavery is 3,186,000. This means that almost 17 out of every 1,000 people in Pakistan live in slavery, while 74 people out of every 100 are vulnerable to slavery.
  4. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) joined the European Union (EU) to launch The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants Act (GLO.ACT) in 2017. Pakistan joined this program in July 2017. This project will include six responses: strategy and policy development, legislative assistance, capacity building, regional and trans-regional cooperation, protection and assistance to victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants and assistance and support to children among victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants. The GLO.ACT also includes a public awareness campaign. To raise awareness, whether as a warning or as a call to action, UNODC distributed 300,000 flyers and 80,000 posters throughout the four districts of Punjab and Balochistan, where most trafficking takes place.
  5. The U.S. Department of State also recommended actions for Pakistan, led by the plea to pass an anti-trafficking law that criminalizes all forms of human trafficking. If Pakistan takes these actions, such as implementing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral to rehabilitation services, they can start to move to Tier 1, which means that a country does meet minimum standards for human trafficking.

Though many trafficking victims live without hope, there can be light at the end of the tunnel. With help from organizations and governments such as UNODC and the U.S. Department of State, human trafficking in Pakistan will continue to decrease. As for a young girl from the beginning of the article, she, despite her fear of traffickers, still plans to defy the odds and apply for college, and her father promised to help her purchase books in the market on his meager salary. Her story is one of redemption, and hope for the future of Pakistan.

– Natalie Dell
Photo: Flickr

solutions to human trafficking
The fight against human trafficking can be evaluated in three categories: what is being done, how it is being done and why it is being done. Human trafficking consists of the transferring, harboring and receipt of a person or persons. It is often done in violent or deceptive ways, using threat, coercion, payments and a clear abuse of power. Finally, the main motive behind human trafficking is exploitation, in most cases sexual exploitation or forced labor.

People all over the world are victims of human trafficking, both in their own countries and abroad. Because this is a widespread issue with varying levels, it becomes increasingly challenging to address it with a single set of laws or policies. While many countries have adopted their own policies for addressing this international issue, there are many things that people everywhere can do to join the fight against human trafficking. Some of the solutions for this problem are presented in the text below.

Top 10 Solutions to Human Trafficking

  1. Fundraising. Holding a fundraiser and donating the money raised to one of the countless organizations that help to fight human trafficking not only gives money to the cause but also brings awareness to the issue. Most organizations working to fight human trafficking are nonprofit organizations that rely on donations. Holding fundraisers helps maintain these nonprofits.
  2. Volunteer. Volunteering time and effort to an anti-trafficking organization is a great way to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. In addition to helping the organization itself, the more volunteers there are, the greater the outreach can be. For example, Unseen is a nonprofit organization that helps victims of human trafficking by providing specialist care to help them along the road to recovery. There are several volunteer roles with Unseen, ranging in levels of time commitment.
  3. Be aware of the signs of human trafficking. Being educated on signs that could indicate someone is a victim of human trafficking increases the likelihood of reporting and could give a voice to victims who do not feel comfortable speaking out for themselves. Signs that someone is a victim of human trafficking come in several categories. Poor work and living conditions, poor mental health and lack of control are some of the main areas to look for.
  4. Advocate. Meeting with or reaching out to local, state and federal representatives informs them that their constituents are passionate about fighting human trafficking, and brings the issue to their attention. This increases the likelihood that they will do something about it. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, for example, is the cornerstone of anti-trafficking legislation in America, yet it expired in 2011. Anti-trafficking nonprofits all over the country band together to advocate for its re-authorization, which was granted in 2013.
  5. Hold events to raise awareness. Raising awareness for human trafficking can also get more people involved and interested in joining the fight. It can create a chain reaction, leading to more people lobbying, fundraising and educating themselves. Regardless of what the event is, they are efficient ways to raise awareness for a cause and gain new followers.
  6. Boycott products and companies that permit human trafficking. Many goods produced in the United States and abroad are products of victims of human trafficking. Being conscientious about the products consumed and the companies supported is an easy way to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. An easy way to find out what products contribute to a “slavery footprint,” is the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
  7. Help survivors. Donate clothes and other goods to shelters for victims of human trafficking. Also, encourage businesses to give jobs to survivors, helping them get back on their feet and get a fresh start. If applicable, offering legal advice to survivors allows them an opportunity to not only move forward but to gain justice. Helping survivors and contributing to their recovery stops the cycle of trauma in its tracks and ensures it won’t repeat itself.
  8. Stay informed. There are many anti-trafficking nonprofits with blogs and updates that people can subscribe to, keeping them in the loop of any new information or solutions to human trafficking. For example, the nonprofit organization Polaris Project offers updates via email for anyone who chooses to subscribe.
  9. Report suspicions – It is important to know the resources available. When traveling abroad, it is beneficial to look up the emergency phone number of the given country, to enable quick reports should a trafficking victim be spotted.
  10. Help combat the demand. The main factor that keeps human trafficking such a big issue is the constant demand for cheap labor and exploitation. Traffickers often turn to websites such as Craigslist and Backpage to target vulnerable potential victims. Enforcing stricter validity checks on websites like these and offering jobs through more reliable online platforms is attacking the problem at its root, and stopping human trafficking before it even begins.

These solutions to human trafficking can be applied to the lives of people everywhere, helping everyone feel like they are joining the fight against this international issue. At the political level, however, there is also a lot being done to combat human trafficking. In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, establishing what is now called the 3Ps: punish traffickers, protect victims, and prevent this problem from reoccurring. There is great progress being made on a grander scale, but by working towards these solutions and implementing them into everyday life human trafficking can become a more manageable problem.

– Charlotte Kriftcher

Photo: Flickr

causes of human trafficking in India
Human trafficking, defined as the illegal trade of humans most commonly for the purposes of sexual slavery and forced labor, currently claims an estimated 24.9 million victims worldwide, and the Global Slavery Index estimates that 8 million trafficking victims live within India’s borders. In 2016, there were 8,132 human trafficking cases reported in India, a 20 percent increase from 2015, and there were 23,117 people rescued from the human trafficking system.

Of the people rescued, 60 percent were children, women and girls accounted for 55 percent, 33 percent were trafficked for sexual services, and 45 percent were trafficked for forced labor. While much of the global pervasiveness of human trafficking can be explained only by extreme poverty, political instability and war, the causes of human trafficking in India are more nuanced.

Causes of Human Trafficking in India

The causes of human trafficking in India can be explained in part by gender-based discrimination, responsible for the deaths of approximately 239,000 girls under the age of five in India each year. Gender-based discrimination is a cultural norm in India, as sons are considered more useful to the family than daughters. This heavily patriarchal society leaves girls with limited access to education, leading to gender gaps in both literacy rates and financial earning potentials.

According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate was 82 percent for men and 65 percent for women, and according to the 2013 census, men were paid 25 percent more than women. As a result of gender-based discrimination, the sex ratio in India is greatly skewed.

Because there are far more men in India than young women, bride trafficking, or the illegal sale of women for the purpose of marriage, is becoming more prevalent in India. In the more rural Northern states, where the sex ratio is worse than the national average, bride trafficking has become a norm. More than 90 percent of married women in these Northern states have been sold from other states, some as many as three times, often first becoming brides as preteens. Gender-based discrimination in India has perpetuated a societal structure that strongly favors males over females to the point of self-destruction, as men are unable to find wives, thus driving demand for the human trafficking of women in India for the purpose of marriage.

Sex Trafficking

Another cause of human trafficking in India is a lack of opportunity in India’s poor communities, especially for uneducated women, to provide for their families. In 2012, only 43 percent of women in India worked regular wage or salaried positions. Victims of sex trafficking in India are predominantly young, illiterate girls from impoverished families in rural states. Although poverty is decreasing in India, 28 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line.

Poor communities are especially vulnerable to human traffickers, as they often offer better job opportunities or debt relief to lure victims. With limited opportunities to make money, offers like these are hard to decline for young women. Sex trafficking victims average 10 to 14 years of age, down from its previous average of 14 to 16, because younger girls are thought to be less likely to carry sexually-transmitted diseases.

Forced Labor

The causes of male trafficking in India is primarily tied with forced or bonded labor. Bonded labor, defined as a system of forced or partly forced labor under which a debtor accepts an advance of cash for a pledge of labor, by the debtor or any member of the debtor’s family, for the benefit of a creditor, is deeply entrenched in India’s social structure. While bonded labor was abolished in India in 1976, many industries who rely on bonded labor schemes for their workforces have turned to the human trafficking trade for workers in their spinning mills, granite quarries and brick kilns.

Like the bride and sex trafficking trade, forced labor traffickers recruit victims from poor, rural areas of India, promising lump-sum payments at the end of their contracts. Workers are meagerly compensated for their labor, and terrible working conditions provoke illnesses that lead to wage advances and loans that keep the worker in lifelong debt to their contractors.

Solutions

The Government of India has been making strides to address its human trafficking problem by heightening its border security, increasing its budget for aid to trafficking victims and drafting an anti-trafficking bill. In February 2018, the Union Cabinet passed the Trafficking in Persons Bill to be voted on by Parliament. If passed, the bill would criminalize aggravated forms of trafficking and establish a national anti-trafficking bureau, along with locally stationed anti-trafficking units. This bill also includes methods to rehabilitate victims, addresses physical and mental trauma and promoted education, health and skill development.

Additionally, the Rescue Foundation, established in 2000, helps to investigate, rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking in India. Rehabilitation programs include education, computer training, legal aid and counseling. As a result of the Rescue Foundation, more than 5,000 victims have been rescued and more than 15,000 have been rehabilitated and repatriated.

The causes of human trafficking in India include gender discrimination, a vulnerability of the impoverished population and the desperation of the impoverished to support their families. Trafficking industries in India are taking advantage of the plight of India’s disadvantaged and impoverished population for the benefit of others, as trafficking victims are rarely paid as they’re promised.

However, human trafficking in India seems to be endangered as the government progresses in reducing human trafficking in the nation by increasing its border security, aid for trafficking victims and passing the Trafficking in Persons Bill to Parliament. Moreover, nongovernmental organizations like the Rescue Foundation have been successful in rescuing, rehabilitating, and repatriating victims of trafficking back to their families.

– Jillian Baxter
Photo: Flickr

anti-human trafficking software
Children are the most vulnerable population in the world. Even the most vigilant of parents cannot watch their children at all times. Every country suffers from kidnapping, although certain countries have much higher rates than others. For example, in 2015, Lebanon held the highest rate of 16.9 per 100,000 people kidnapped. The reasons for kidnapping children vary drastically, but one of them is human trafficking. This abhorrent practice has been going on for far too long, but with modern technology, there are organizations developing ways to stop it through anti-human trafficking software. Thorn is an organization founded by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to defend children from human trafficking and sexual abuse.

Digital Defenders of Children

As a digital platform dedicated to ending child trafficking, “Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children concentrates on the role internet plays in facilitating child pornography and child sexual slavery internationally. By putting its efforts towards reclaiming the battleground for a better future of the world’s youth, Thorn is using digital technology to track down victims of sex trafficking and child pornography as well as those who facilitate it.

And, even though some communities get targeted for “easier access,” child sexual abuse is not confined to any one group. Online pornographic images and videos involve both girls and boys from 0-18 years old with diverse backgrounds. In one of their reports for tipline, “the Canadian Centre for Child Protection found that children under 12 years old were depicted in 78.3 percent of the images and videos assessed by their team, and 63.4 percent of those children were under 8 years of age.” The same study found that 80.42 percent of the children were girls while 19.58 percent were boys. These staggering numbers underline the importance of Thorn’s work in targeting child pornography, especially when the physical and psychological trauma endured in early childhood affect the victims for the rest of their lives.

Child Sexual Abuse Deterrence Program

The majority of the sex trafficking victims end up in the situation because of living in poverty. As children of more impoverished and uneducated families, they often at higher risk of abduction or even being sold into slavery where they can end up in the estimated $13 billion pornography industry. In 2018, one in seven runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children likely became victims of sex trafficking, the majority of which came from low-income families. Therefore, issues of poverty ultimately need to be addressed in order to stamp out child sexual abuse entirely.

Poverty isn’t the only catalyst. Child pornography wouldn’t exist if there weren’t a market in which to sell it. So, to prevent the pattern from spreading even wider, Thorn communicates directly with people actively searching for material featuring child sexual abuse with the aim to make them think about and realize its consequences and hopefully to change their behavior by helping them understand their accountability for the detrimental situation these children are in. Thanks to Thorn’s child sexual abuse deterrence program, more than 140,000 individuals have sought help in addressing their role in supporting child pornography.

Progress So Far

With the help from Thorn’s anti-human trafficking software, law enforcement officers and investigators have already identified 5,791 child sex trafficking victims and rescued 103 children who were victims of sexual abuse that was recorded and distributed. Thorn continues working with more than 20 international NGOs and more than 40 tech partners, aiding more than 5,000 law enforcement officers in all 50 states and in more than 18 countries in the fight to eliminate sex trafficking and abuse.  

Ending human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children might be one of the worst fights society faces today, but with the help of organizations like Thorn creating anti-human trafficking software not only to find and recover these children but also to hold accountable and attempt to rehabilitate those who support the industry, there is hope of seeing a reduction in these types of atrocities in the future.

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Human Trafficking in China
Human trafficking encompasses any exploitation or forced trade of humans against their will. This includes sex trafficking, child labor, forced labor and even forced adoptions and marriages. Human trafficking has risen to extremely high rates in China and the country has been identified as having one of the world’s highest rates of human trafficking in the world.

Human Trafficking in China in Numbers

It is reported that human trafficking impacts 236 million people in China and Chinese trafficking victims have been transported and found on every single continent around the world. Approximately 600,000 workers willingly migrate into China on the basis of false promises regarding work opportunities, including escapees from North Korea. Instead of finding work, many are set up and sold into human trafficking organizations. They are usually forced into hard labor, prostitution, or entertainment industries. There are numerous causes of human trafficking in China. Supply chain companies, many of which sell their products to the United States, utilize human trafficking to obtain cheap or free labor to mass produce their products.

Causes of Human Trafficking in China

The one-child policy has contributed to human trafficking in China and can be considered as one of the main reasons for this negative trend in the country. In an effort to control the growing population, the country limited each family to the maximum of one child. As male children are prioritized over female, an uneven gender distribution ratio exists.

This results in less marriageable women and, therefore, the purchasing of wives through human trafficking. Children are also kidnapped from poverty-stricken rural areas and sold to parents that are unable to have children themselves. Overall, the largest causes of human trafficking in China are the high unemployment rates in rural areas, mass production increase in urban areas and lack of enforced punishment by government and law.

Tackling the Issue

China does not meet the minimum requirement of standards necessary to combat the rise of human trafficking. However, as this issue has been brought to the light internationally, the country has begun to make efforts to fight against human trafficking. The Central Committee, the State Council and local governments and institutions are designated to tackle this issue.

Many organization, predominately those that are organized by women, have been prominent in providing knowledge about sex trafficking to uneducated women. Paired with the Ministry of Justice, the All China’s Women’s Federation has produced many anti-trafficking printouts and propaganda. China has increased cooperation with other countries attempting to investigate cases of Chinese trafficking overseas, as well as provided shelters for trafficking victims and funded awareness campaigns to increase knowledge surrounding the issue.

These efforts, however small, go along way in helping prevent the rise of human trafficking in China. Providing awareness to uneducated and poverty-stricken rural areas is a large first step, as many people fall into trafficking simply by being unaware of what it is, what it looks like and how it occurs. There is a long way to go, but with the help and encouragement of international countries, the causes of human trafficking in China will begin to lessen. The first big step, the recognition of the problem, is already done.

– Mary Spindler

Photo: Flickr

Top Five Nonprofits Combatting Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a problem that affects the entire world. In 2017, 100,409 victims of human trafficking were identified worldwide. That is a dramatic increase from 2012, the year that saw the total number of victims reach 46,570 people. However, there are several organizations in the United States and abroad that are working to end human trafficking. In the text below, top five nonprofits combating human trafficking are presented.

Top 5 Nonprofits Combatting Human Trafficking

  1. The Polaris Project began in 2002, with the objective of tracking and ending human trafficking. This program aims to achieve this goal through several objectives. One of the objectives is running National Human Trafficking Hotline that provides support for victims inside the United States. Recently, the Polaris Project began to expand its work beyond the United States. The organization partnered with Consejo Ciudadano organization and begun work in Mexico and Latin America. The partnership with Consejo Ciudadano allowed both projects to merge their hotlines to track victims being smuggled to the United to Mexico and vice versa. In 2016, the partnership helped 508 victims find support after being trafficked. Support included psychological evaluation and legal advice. Also, calling the hotline number provided crucial details that lead to the identification of 559 traffickers.
  2. A21, since 2008, works to end slavery and human trafficking across the world and wants to ensure that freedom is a right secured to every human. A21 has 14 offices across the world including the United States, South Africa, Thailand and Ukraine. One of A21’s largest programs is the Walk for Freedom, which is a march that raises awareness of slavery and human trafficking. The march is also an opportunity for A21 to raise money to help its other causes like the Can You See Me campaign that aims to raise awareness of trafficking through social media. Last year, 400 marches took place in 50 countries. Seventy million people saw these marches either in person or through the media.
  3. Stop the Traffik, like other nonprofits combatting human trafficking, focuses on intelligence-led preventative measures that lead to disruption of human trafficking worldwide. The most important service that Stop the Traffik offers is the Stop App. This app can be downloaded by anyone in the world and is a place for victims of human trafficking to share their stories. The app allows victims to feel heard but also provides Stop the Traffik with valuable data. The information shared on the app allows Stop the Traffik to create hotspots and predict further activity in these areas. The data and findings are published online and are accessible to everyone. In August 2018, Stop the Traffik released a three-page report on child trafficking in Kenya that included the areas most affected by human trafficking, the most popular types of exploitation, the ways in which traffickers trick victims and how to spot the signs that someone is trafficked.
  4. Love146 fights to end child trafficking and exploitation through prevention and care for survivors. One of the many caring services that Love146 offers is the Round Home. The Round Home is a recovery house for girls who are victims of human trafficking. The goal of the house is to help girls renter society by helping them overcome trauma and realize their potential. The home is located in the Philippines and has several facilities including a volleyball court, a treehouse designated for therapy and a punching bag to help girls take out their aggression. While girls are staying at the house, Love146 helps locate the girls’ families to ensure they do not re-trafficked and that they can return to a stable living situation.
  5. Shared Hope’s goal is to bring an end to sex trafficking through prevention, justice and support. While Shared Hope focuses on human trafficking in the United States it also expanded its support programs to Nepal, India and Jamaica. In 2005, Shared Hope founded Asha Nepal, a Village of Hope that offers to house women who are victims of human trafficking. The village hosts 11 women and 15 children year round and offers counseling, HIV and STI treatment and vocational training. Like the Round House, the goal of Asha Nepal’s housing is to help victims of human trafficking re-enter the society with valuable skills so they do not get re-trafficked.

In recent years human trafficking increased worldwide. Despite these harsh facts, the nonprofit organizations like the Polaris Project, A21, Stop the Traffik, Love146 and Shared Hope are working hard to end it. These and many other organizations are fighting for a world where no will have to worry about being exploited for sex or labor.

– Drew Garbe

Photo: Flickr

 

Human Trafficking in Thailand
Modern slavery plagues millions of communities globally. Human trafficking, a $150 billion plus industry, impacts lives regardless of race, gender or economic status. Human trafficking in Thailand is a major national problem.

Children and Human Trafficking

With convenient trafficking routes that funnel women and children in and out of the country, Thailand has become a popular destination for traffickers. Extreme poverty, particularly in rural areas makes children vulnerable. Research estimates that around 60,000 children are trapped in the sex trade in Thailand. Direct intervention can be extremely difficult, due to the violent nature of this criminal activity.

There are a number of risk factors that make children vulnerable to human trafficking. Poverty and hunger can cause parents to sell their children into slavery with the hope that they will find a better life. In addition, traffickers target homeless and isolated children, hoping to lure them with false promises. A lack of education or understanding of their legal rights, also makes children more vulnerable.

In Thailand, most children only attend school for about 7 years. The most susceptible population are girls living in orphanages who are about to graduate into the outside world.

Peacework Safe Girls Campaign

Peacework, a non-profit based in Virginia, has developed the Peacework Safe Girls Campaign to combat child trafficking in Thailand and other countries through education and empowerment. The Safe Girls Campaign empowers children with financial self-reliance and avoid the chains of trafficking.

The Peacework Safe Girls Campaign hosts a variety of different empowerment projects at orphanages in Thailand staffed by university students from the United States working alongside university students in Thailand.

In Saraburi, Thailand, Peacework partners with Asia Pacific University, a Seventh-day Adventist university east of Saraburi. The partnership between Peacework and Asia Pacific University focuses on the development of a financial independence curriculum. They present the curriculum to the orphanages and shelters on an annual basis.

Peacework Safe Girls Campaign empowers children in Chiang Rai as well. Chiang Rai sits at the top of Thailand, and ineffective border regulation results in well-used trafficking routes. Peacework partners with Keep Girls Safe, an initiative of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency that runs a shelter for young girls. The Safe Girls Campaign sends university students from the United States to Chiang Rai to run educational workshops for shelter residents.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Through these projects, the Safe Girls Campaign helps children achieve self-determination that helps them avoid trafficking. Equipped with knowledge about their legal rights and the skills to pursue a profitable career, vulnerable children can take control of their futures and resist the cycle of trafficking. The work also gives children the tools to lift themselves out of poverty. Entrepreneurial development equips them to pursue a financially stable career.

While the scale of the campaigns’ reach may be small, the impact of economic empowerment on the lives of orphans in Chiang Rai and Saraburi are sure to have a ripple effect. In addition, the tactics they are developing to fight human trafficking and poverty are inherently valuable to ending the epidemic globally.

The prevention work Peacework does through the Safe Girls Campaign is crucial in the fight to end trafficking and it currently hopes to expand the campaign to countries around the world. Their prevention strategy can be applied to any country. The Safe Girls Campaign empowers children to pursue better lives.

– Julia McCartney

Photo: Flickr

Global Alliance Against Traffic in WomenPeople often think of slavery as a thing of the past. They think of cotton plantations and the transatlantic slave trade, the Abolitionist movement and the Civil War. Yet, slavery remains present all over the world today in the form of human trafficking. In 2016, more than 40 million people were victims of human trafficking. Of this number, 25 percent were children and 75 percent were women or girls. These people are subjected to inhumane conditions, forced labor and sexual exploitation. Many organizations and movements are fighting to end this modern slavery. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) is one of those organizations.

5 Things to Know about the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

  1. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women is a group of more than 100 non-governmental organizations from countries all over the world that promotes human rights and fights human trafficking, specifically trafficking of women and girls, as they account for a great majority of human trafficking victims.
  2. The network was founded in 1994 at an international conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand, by a group of women mainly from the Global South, many of whom had personally experienced migration, displacement and/or trafficking. The alliance, now based in Bangkok, revolutionized the way human trafficking is perceived as it was one of the first entities to apply a human-rights approach to the issue. This involves recognizing that human trafficking is both a “consequence and cause of human rights violations” and emphasizing the need to protect victims’ rights.
  3. Member organizations include anti-trafficking groups as well as human rights, women’s rights and migrants’ rights organizations from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Though member organizations work independently, they must adhere to the GAATW’s basic principles and abide the certain conditions. Collaboration among members is crucial to the network’s success and is coordinated by the International Secretariat.
  4. Every three years the GAATW’s member organizations and other relevant actors meet at an International Members Congress and Conference, where the network’s strategy to fight the trafficking is refined and updated. The alliance’s strategy has three central themes: increasing accountability of different actors to implement anti-trafficking plans, access to justice and the protection of victims’ human rights and power in migration and work, which involves analyzing how labor and migration policies affect women and empowering women in these areas.
  5. Raising awareness of human trafficking, conducting research and advocating for victims’ rights are a central part of GAATW’s operations. In 2012, the GAATW began publishing the Anti-Trafficking Review, the first peer-reviewed open-access journal centered on human trafficking. Through these processes, the Global Alliance in Traffic Against Women has made remarkable progress. The GAATW helped establish an internationally recognized definition of trafficking. It also created the Human Rights Standard for the Treatment of Trafficked Persons, a system of standards that are used around the world to protect the rights of those who have been trafficked.

Human trafficking is modern slavery and represents a severe violation of people’s rights. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women is an incredible network that is raising awareness of this problem and pushing governments and other parties to do more to end it. As history has taught us, eliminating any form of slavery is a long and difficult process, but with the GAATW and many other important organizations working tirelessly, ending human trafficking is achievable.

– Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr