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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

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

Human Trafficking
There are several types of human trafficking, and they all have a common denominator: an abuse of the intrinsic vulnerability of the victims.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the treat or use of force or other forms of coercion.”

Trafficking of individuals is a serious crime and a heinous violation of human rights.

“Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims,” said the UN.

The following are various categories linked to human trafficking:

Sex Trafficking

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime suggested that 53 percent of the victims are forced into sexual exploitation. “Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of persons through threat, use of force, or other coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This includes movement across borders, as well as within the victim’s own country,” affirmed Human Trafficking Search.

The International Labour Organization estimated that there is a worldwide profit of $100 billion for forced commercial sexual exploitation.

Additionally, “the perceived inferior status of women in many parts of the world has contributed to the expansion of the trafficking industry,” confirmed Human Trafficking Search.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

Involuntary servitude happens when a domestic worker becomes enslaved in an exploitative position they are incapable of escaping.

“Domestic servitude is the seemingly normal practice of live-in help that is used as a cover for the exploitation and control of someone, usually from another country. It is a form of forced labor, but it also warrants its own category of slavery because of the unique contexts and challenges it presents,” said End Slavery Now.

Forced Labor

According to Human Trafficking Search, “Forced labor is work or service that is extorted from someone under the menace of any penalty and work or service that the person has not offered voluntarily.”

The International Labour Organization estimated that approximately 20.9 million people are enslaved to forced labor, and 4.5 are subjected to sexual forced exploitation.

Debt Bondage

“Debt bondage is a type of forced labor, involving a debt that cannot be paid off in a reasonable time,” said Human Trafficking Search. It is a period of debt during which there is no freedom, consequently, it is also known as debt slavery.

Child Soldiers

Child soldiers are described as persons under the age of 18, who have been recruited by armed forces in any capacity. Currently, there are thousands of soldiers worldwide.

“The definition includes both boys and girls who are used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes,” added Human Trafficking Search.

Child Sex Trafficking

There are approximately 1.8 million children subjected to prostitution or pornography globally.

The Human Trafficking Search defined it as “a sexual exploitation by an adult with respect to a child, usually accompanied by a payment to the child or one or more third parties.”

Child Labor

A child is considered to be involved in child labor activities if this minor is between the ages of 0 and 18, is involved in a type of work inappropriate for their age and in a dangerous work environment.

However, there are several forms of child labor. The most common ones are related to the informal sector of the economy and are linked to agricultural labor, mining, construction and begging in the streets.

Said by the Polaris Project, “human trafficking is a form of modern slavery – a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. And no matter where you live, chances are it’s happening nearby. From the girl forced into prostitution at a truck stop, to the man discovered in a restaurant kitchen, stripped of his passport and held against his will. All trafficking victims share one essential experience: the loss of freedom.”

Isabella Rolz

Sources: Human Trafficking Search, UNODC, End Slavery Now, Polaris Project, United Nations, International Labour Organization

Child-Labor-in-Vietnam
Over 1.75 million Vietnamese children, 9.6 percent of the population of people under 18 in the country, are laborers. Child Labor in Vietnam consists of children who are forced to work long hours, normally with little to no pay, in crowded factories or on agricultural farms. One third of the children work an average of 42 hours per week, and the majority are not able to attend school.

Labor trafficking — both domestically and internationally — is a major problem. As explained by a BBC report, trafficking gangs normally target rural villages, where they offer to take kids to cities in order to give them vocational training or technical skills. Parents normally agree because the people in these remote communities are not aware of the risks of human trafficking. Also, traffickers benefit from the “golden egg” culture of Vietnam, where children are sent to work abroad and send money back for the family.

Rather than receiving vocational training, the children taken from rural villages are forced to work, some in factories, some in domestic labor and others in agricultural labor. BBC discussed the case of Hieu (who declined to give his real name), an 18-year-old boy who was taken from the rural village of Dien Bien. Dien Bien is in the northwest, on the border of Vietnam and China. It is one of the poorest areas in the country.

Hieu was put into a small room, where he and the 11 other kids taken from his village were forced to work from 6 a.m. until midnight. They received no pay, and were beaten with a stick if they made a mistake. Hieu was finally able to escape when he and two other teenage boys jumped out the third story window at 1 a.m. Hieu has since been helped by the Blue Dragon Foundation, a Vietnamese-based charity that works to help child trafficking victims, and is now training to be a mechanic.

Groups like the Blue Dragon Foundation are making a difference. The foundation itself has rescued over 230 child trafficking victims since 2005. However, child trafficking continues to remain an issue in Vietnam, and Blue Dragon co-founder Michael Brosowski explained that it is likely getting worse because people are realizing how lucrative it can be.

Vietnam has been praised for its efforts to crack down on child trafficking internationally, since it has increased the number of prosecutions it holds to help end overseas gang activity. However, Vietnam’s control of child trafficking within the country itself needs to increase. Internal trafficking only became officially recognized in 2011, and traffickers are normally not given harsh punishments. The person who trafficked Hieu and the 11 other children from Dien Bien was fined $500 and his factory was closed down, but he did not go to court.

Part of the confusion over what sort of punishment must be given those who traffic internally in Vietnam stems from the fact that some child laborers are paid. While they are normally paid only a small amount, some argue that if a child who is poor, does not have enough to eat and had dropped out of school goes to a factory and gets paid, it is not necessarily a bad thing.

While there is still debate over trafficking within Vietnam, it has been more firmly established that trafficking Vietnamese children internationally needs to be stopped. As The Guardian said, one of the major destinations for traffickers who send Vietnamese children abroad to work is Britain, where over 3000 children are sent to work on cannabis farms, in nail bars, garment factories, brothels or in domestic labor. In order to combat this influx, in March of 2015, the UK passed a bill designed to increase the prosecution of traffickers and give more rights to those sent into modern slavery. However, some Vietnamese children who are sent to the UK and forced to work in cannabis cultivation are prosecuted for their actions, while their traffickers are not.

In recent years, a lot has been done in order to stop child labor within Vietnam and to stop the flow of Vietnamese children who are being trafficked into modern slavery around the world. However, in order to continue the fight against child labor and human trafficking, laws have to be more strictly enforced and clear conditions have to be set about how to punish those who traffic internally.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: BBC, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Stop Child Labor: The Child Labor Coalition, Vietnam: The US Embassy, International Labour Organization
Photo: Sapa Trek

Bachpan-Bachao-Andolan-End-Child-Trafficking

Bachpan Bachao Andolan, one of the largest organizations in India that fights child labor and trafficking, filed a complaint on June 24, claiming that there is child labor occurring in south Delhi.

The district task force and a team of police carried out a raid and rescue operation in various south Delhi restaurants, clothing stores and jewelry stores. 24 children were rescued; 16 were between the ages of 10-14, and the rest were no older than 18.

According to the BBA website, in the last month the organization has rescued 124 trafficked children “working as bonded labors across occupations and processes like Zari units, jeans and garment outlets, shoes and slipper units, eating joints and bindi-making units.” These children worked long hours, often between 12 to 14 hours, without any wages.

“Child laborers continue to work across the capital despite various laws and directions of the court,” said BBA chairperson R.S. Chaurasia. “Thousands of children are still working in the small eating joints and hotels. More painful is the fact that adults working in thousands of shops and factories are not getting the prescribed minimum wage, making them send the children to such places.”

Children are often trafficked from vulnerable countries when they face desperation, a lack of basic resources and the promise of a better future. A 15-year-old boy from Nepal was convinced by a distant relative (who ended up being a trafficker) to leave his hometown and come to Delhi for employment and money that could help the family back home in Nepal. “After the earthquake in Nepal, conditions in my hometown were very difficult,” said the boy. “Me and my family were left with no work, no money and food.”

This boy (whose name has been withheld for anonymity) worked at a small hotel in Delhi under very inhumane conditions. His hands were severely wounded after long hours of cutting vegetables and cleaning pots and pans in the kitchen, but his “employers” failed to provide him with medical services. His cuts were crudely and cheaply stitched together at a local place.

According to the BBA website, “Hundreds of millions of children throughout the world are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms, violating their rights. Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labor, such as work in hazardous environments, slavery or other forms of forced labor, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.” Child trafficking in India is a dire issue, especially today.

Bachpan Bachao Andolan is India’s largest grassroots movement to end the trafficking of children in India and to provide children with their basic human rights. Since October 2014, BBA has rescued over 83,500 trafficked children, enslaved children and children oppressed under child labor. BBA also helps these children assimilate into society after they are freed, helping them regain trust.

BBA was established by Kailash Satyarthi in 1980, when child labor was not recognized as a problem by the Indian government, media and public discourse. Since the organization’s beginnings, it has focused its efforts largely on the rescue operations of children in various dangerous environments such as brick kilns, stone quarries and carpet factories. It also runs rehabilitation centers for these rescued children.

BBA has demanded policy changes in government legislation to address child labor and anti-trafficking laws. The Supreme Court of India first addressed child labor and trafficking when an appeal was submitted in April 2011 by BBA. Since then, the Indian government has ratified the Palermo Protocol, and laws have been incorporated into the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance.

– Margaret Anderson

Sources: BBA 1, BBA 2, IB Times
Photo: The National

street_children_in_Thailand

Most of us know our birth dates, where we are sleeping tonight and who are parents are. But for street children of Thailand, those three pieces of information are unlikely to be known.

The United Nations estimated that there is a population of 150 million street children worldwide. Due to Thailand’s growing population and economic issues, a large percentage of the street children reside in Thailand.

Street children in Thailand range from 1.5 to 18-years-old; all living on the street for various reasons. A study by The Nation found that although children are on the street for different reasons, the majority of them are because of family problems.

The economic crisis that hit the Southeast Asia in the 90’s sent many families into a panic and scramble for money and resources. Though some street children are living with their family, a good portion of them are separated from their families.

World Street Children News published an article in which they interviewed a 14-year-old boy that was selling cigarettes and candy on the streets while living behind a school. When asked why he was living in such a harsh environment, he revealed that his family needed the money and living on the streets was cheaper.

Children just like this boy crowd the streets in Thailand, as well as other impoverished cities around the world. Begging to clean your shoes or car, sell you any item they can, or simply for money has become the only option for many children.

Unlike the 14-year-old World Street Children News interviewed, it is common that street children were dropped off at doorsteps as a baby and soon either ran away or were kicked out of the establishment. These children have no birth date, no family and no security.

Making matters worse, a majority of children dropped off to live on the street or in an orphanage are not registered at birth. Their lack of government records makes them, as UNICEF calls them, “invisible.”

With hundreds of undocumented children, the government easily overlooks the problems in its streets. Without any type of help or recognition, street children often fall into bad habits or are pulled into dangerous industries.

Drugs, theft and sex trafficking are three of the most prominent issues street children either join in on or are forced into. Drugs and theft are two options that many children turn to because of their situation. Often times older children teach younger ones how to properly steal in order to survive and introduce them to the drugs.

Sex trafficking, however, can be introduced into children’s lives in a variety of ways. Some, desperate for work and a way to live, turn to prostitution. By offering themselves up to the sex industry, they are commonly pushed further into it through sex offenders and traffickers.

A growing issue in Thailand among the sex industry is child pornography. Thailand currently has no laws restricting child pornography, and as a rapidly expanding genre, Thai films are frequently being shipped to countries with stricter laws. As this disturbing fad continues, more and more children are being pulled from the streets of Thailand to be used in pornographic films.

Since the economic crisis of the 90’s, Thailand has yet to return to a level of stability that they once had. By aiding the street children of the nation, Thailand could achieve the economic growth they once experienced.

Children growing up and becoming active in the Thai community would decrease the continual rate of malnourished and impoverished people in Thailand. Putting people back to work could help restart the economy and, in turn, decrease the future number of children living on the street.

Organizations like Kaya Children International, Family For Every Child, and Childlife are working to get children off of the street and into homes and schools where they can survive and prosper.

Providing the essentials to these children will allow them to grow, rather than struggle, and improve their nation and the world.

– Katherine Wyant

Sources: The Star, Street Children News, Wayback Machine, Kaya Children International, Kaya For Every Child, Childlife,
Photo: Chiangrai Times

Child Panhandling Greece
Last November, NBC New York investigated a group of women who appeared to be working in syndicate using children to panhandle on the streets of New York. Though they turned out not to be homeless, they were still using toddler-aged children to appeal to strangers for money. When offered food and shelter by well-meaning individuals, they would turn them down.

While panhandling with children is termed a misdemeanor in the state of New York, there are plenty of people in urban areas who are all too willing to exploit children in similar, yet far more sinister ways.

In broken English, an anonymous writer explained that there are actually networks of women who are controlled by crime rings. They sit on the street with unknown infants that have been drugged into unconsciousness with vodka or heroin to make them sleep. Said children are either ‘borrowed’ from unfit parents or outright kidnapped.

The most repulsive aspect of this story, if it is to be believed, is that children often die from overdoses. In these cases the street ‘mothers’ have to hold the corpse all day in order to collect money on the streets of the unnamed city until the end of their shifts.

An anonymous commenter on the story claims to have seen this phenomenon in action in Uganda, while another corroborates it with accounts of trafficked infants and children in China.

According to Polaris, human trafficking takes on many other forms besides panhandling. It happens both in third world countries and in the United States and often disguises itself under the façades of spas, restaurants, carnivals and other small businesses.

Approximately 20.9 million people have been trafficked both domestically and abroad. Among the most vulnerable groups are children, migrants, troubled minors and victims of social stigmatization, sexual assault, domestic violence or war.

The traffickers recruit by promising victims lucrative jobs, novel opportunities and even romantic relationships. Once they are firmly in hand, the perpetrators flip the switch, employing psychologically coercive and damaging tactics such as threats, lies, physical force and emotional manipulation.

Children in particular are prone to the tactics employed by traffickers because their frontal lobes do not fully mature until around the age of 25. The frontal lobe is responsible for conscious reasoning and decision making.

They become especially vulnerable when they run away from home and are exploring unfamiliar territory. Under these circumstances, minors are more likely to rely on the kindness of strangers, in these instances to their grave detriment.

In the worst case scenarios, the traffickers turn out to be pimps who force their female victims into prostitution. Often, they wait near truck stops and gas stations for their next clients to drive up before knocking on their doors.

Despicable as the pimps may be, however, they are working off what is ultimately a profitable business model. It is profitable because the people who pay for the sexual favors and services of slaves are either ignorant or choosing to rationalize their decisions. It’s time to stop being part of the epidemic of human rights violations. Wake up, read up, call up and stop the spread of evil.

– Leah Zazofsky

Sources: CNN,  Opposing Views,  Polaris
Photo: Smug Mug

unicef

This year, UNICEF has been utilizing the global platform that the 2014 World Cup provides as a method to boost advocacy.

While it is true that the competition brings people together and has many positive effects on the nations involved, the World Cup will unfortunately also result in the rise of more sinister practices.

For example, global sporting events like the World Cup almost always result in a significant boost in human trafficking.

Judy Harris Kluger, an affiliate of the nonprofit Sanctuary for Families, describes this phenomenon: “On the most basic level, any location that sees an exponential increase in large numbers of men traveling for entertainment will receive a proportion increase in those who purchase sex.”

In Brazil, where this year’s World Cup is being held, prostitution for those over 18 is legal. Unfortunately, many of the people on the streets selling sex are children, and UNICEF is trying to do something about it.

In order to combat child trafficking, UNICEF Brazil has created an app called Proteja Brasil that allows users to report incidences of exploitation or abuse. Witnesses can use the application to document the time, details and location of incidents. This information is sent directly to the authorities who can respond immediately.

In addition to reporting the exploitation of children, the app contains detailed information about exactly what constitutes child abuse, leaving users better educated and more able to protect youth from harm.

Despite the fact that the World Cup means remarkably high numbers of people will be exploited in sex trafficking, UNICEF still sees the tournament as having the potential to create positive change, saying, “The FIFA World Cup is not only a great sporting event, but a powerful opportunity to share messages about the profound and positive difference sport can make in the lives of children. It provides a chance to focus positive public attention on the special risks children face in host countries like Brazil and around the world and the special efforts we can take to protect them from those threats.”

Hopefully UNICEF’s efforts to protect children during this year’s World Cup will be effective. The tournament is essentially a massive world stage which the United Nations is trying to use to for good.

The U.N.’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended the first match of this year’s World Cup and released a statement that  highlights the tournament’s significance: “Sport has a unique ability to unite us, and to show us what we have in common…[The World Cup] is an occasion to celebrate the best values of sport: teamwork, fair play and mutual respect.”

— Emily Jablonski

Sources: Huffington Post, UN, UNICEF
Photo: UNICEF USA

Modern_slavery_Mali
Did you know that…

1. An estimated 20-30 million people live in a state of slavery today.

2. 21 million people are in forced labor.

3. On average, each forced laborer generates $13,000. Some can make as much as $67,200.

4. After drug and arms trafficking, human trafficking ranks third as the largest international crime industry. On the whole, the human trafficking industry generates $32 billion each year, with $15.5 billion in industrialized countries alone.

5. In the U.S. alone, between 14,500 and 17,500 people are victims of this illegal trafficking annually.

6. In 46 percent of the cases of human trafficking, the victim personally knew the trafficker. Only 54 percent of all victims had traffickers they did not know.

7. Women and girls represent over 70 percent of all victims, and children account for half of the trafficked population.

8. Each year, 1 million children are exploited by the commercial sex trade.

9. In 2006, “there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions throughout the world. This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted in 2006.”

10. Since Mauritania was the last country to decriminalize slavery in 2007, slavery is now prohibited in every country throughout the world.

Lauren Yeh

Sources: The CNN Freedom Project, Abolition Media