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Child Prostitution in IranIran is one of the Middle East’s most politically important countries and its central government has transformed significantly over the past century. Once a monarchy, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979, but its elected presidents ultimately ceded authority to the Rahbar, a theocratic Supreme Leader.

Iran’s authoritarian government and association with terrorist groups have often forced U.S. sanctions. Its high-profile human rights abuses have similarly attracted criticism, with the prostitution and trafficking industries particularly on the rise. Prostitution is technically illegal in Iran, but a failing economy and government inaction have allowed it to proliferate. In 2023, the U.S. World Trafficking in Persons Report ranked Iran as a Tier 3 country, signaling a lack of anti-trafficking initiatives. Prostitution rings often target young girls aged 13 to 17, selling them into service in neighboring countries like Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Here’s what to know about child prostitution in Iran:

Poverty Encourages Child Prostitution in Iran

As U.S. sanctions continue to hinder Iran’s economic growth, the nation’s population of roughly 88 million grapples with inflation and unemployment. In September 2023, the Iranian Statistics Center reported the country’s Misery Index at 60.4%, a record high. The Misery Index is a combined assessment of inflation and unemployment rates, aiming to understand Iran’s economic outlook individually.

According to the World Bank, by November 2023, more than 10 million Iranians had fallen victim to poverty. To better their families’ circumstances, many children are forced to work because of loopholes in Iran’s child labor laws. About 15% of Iranian children participate in the labor force and many live on the streets in the country’s urban centers, vulnerable to predation from prostitution rings. Some families even rent their children to criminal organizations, which then make the children beg for money. If children fall short of their quotas, they are often moved into commercial sex work.

Iran’s Temporary Marriage System

Sexual affairs outside of marriage are illegal in Iran, punishable by 100 lashes. However, the Iranian government recognizes so-called “temporary” marriages, allowing couples to legally participate in sex without the formality of a lifelong union. A temporary marriage or sigheh, as it’s called in the country –allows a man to marry a woman for a predetermined period, ranging from an hour to several months or even years. By design, these arrangements absolve men of any financial responsibility to their partners, functioning instead as legalized casual sex. Though some advocates for sigheh cite its religious antecedents, many of its critics point to its potential for sexual exploitation. According to Iranian law, girls as young as 13 can enter into sigheh, providing a legal avenue for child prostitution in Iran.

Afghan Refugees Are Especially Vulnerable

In August 2021, despite a U.S.-led invasion that had forced its ousting 20 years prior, the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan. The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist group, often curtailing human rights in observance of an extremist doctrine. As a result, more than 750,000 Afghans have sought refuge in Iran, hoping for economic opportunity and relief for families back home. However, according to the U.S.’s 2023 World Trafficking in Persons Report, many immigrating Afghans have trouble obtaining documentation and their children are especially vulnerable to forced marriage and sex trafficking.

Government Officials Fail To Address Child Prostitution

As evidenced in the U.S.’s 2023 World Trafficking in Persons Report, Iran has failed to protect its most vulnerable populations, with some government officials even complicit in the sex trade. For instance, despite the recent influx of Afghan refugees, the Iranian government often neglects to screen immigrants for indications of sex trafficking, even denying foreign trafficking victims access to government welfare services. Reportedly, the Iranian police and IRGC, a branch of the Iranian armed forces, even collaborate with sex traffickers based in Dubai, discouraging the Iranian government from investigating and apprehending major traffickers. As a result, victims, adults and children alike endure the most significant penalties, including lashings, public shaming and imprisonment.

Looking Ahead

Subject to widespread poverty, temporary marriages and poor governmental oversight, Iranian children often fall victim to prostitution and are recruited into crime rings that prey on the disadvantaged.

Despite the Iranian government’s half-hearted response, the international community remains committed to investigating child prostitution in Iran. For instance, the U.S. State Department publishes yearly reports on global human trafficking, specifically detailing its prevalence in Iran. These reports include thorough recommendations for curtailing trafficking’s spread, such as: providing protection services to trafficking victims, proactively identifying potential trafficking victims, especially children and adhering to the U.N. TIP protocol, an international standard meant to impede human trafficking. Similarly, on the domestic front, a feminist movement has challenged Iran’s compulsory hijab laws, criticizing the fundamentalist morality that informs many Iranian institutions, including the sigheh.

– Sydney Verdi
Photo: Flickr

Trafficking in Thailand’s Indigenous CommunitiesThe hill tribes of Thailand encompass ethnic minority groups residing in Northern Thailand. These indigenous communities face significant challenges in accessing social welfare programs. Some members of these tribes do not have citizenship, and this further intensifies poverty, limiting education and leading to inadequate employment opportunities. The deprived living conditions affecting indigenous communities make them vulnerable targets for traffickers seeking to exploit their circumstances. The initiatives of NGOs and community leaders aim to create sustainable solutions and combat trafficking in Thailand’s indigenous communities.

Poverty

The high poverty rates among Thai rural indigenous communities create a vulnerable environment for child trafficking to thrive. The 2017 Safe Child Thailand Report concluded that 64% of the hill tribe families in Mae Hong Son province live below the poverty line, earning less than $2 a day. Among them, 23% live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1 a day.

The combination of poverty and the struggle to provide for their families makes the hill tribe communities particularly susceptible to the manipulations of child and sex traffickers and brokers. Traffickers and brokers entice children from these tribes with promises of higher wages and improved living conditions, exploiting their vulnerability and desperation to escape poverty. In some cases, traffickers convince families from the hill tribes to sell their children, convincing them that doing so will provide them with a brighter future.

Limited Education

Limited access to education heightens vulnerability to child trafficking in Thailand’s indigenous communities. According to the 2017 Safe Child Thailand Report, only 51% of hill tribe children enroll in primary school — significantly lower than the national average of 87%. The situation worsens at the secondary level, with only 35.6% of boys and 29% of girls continuing their education. Consequently, 25% of hill tribe people are functionally illiterate, compared to a national average of just 2%.

The Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice and the International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development name poverty as the primary driver pushing children into prostitution and forced labor. Children from indigenous communities in northern Thailand, often lacking Thai citizenship and facing limited opportunities for schooling, are compelled to work at a young age, making them prime targets for child trafficking.

Lack of Employment Opportunities

The restricted movement imposed by current legislation on hill tribe people in Thailand contributes to their vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation. Many individuals within hill tribe communities lack basic identification and official documentation, hindering their ability to travel outside their home areas and seek better work opportunities.

Due to the limited freedom of movement, hill tribe populations often require assistance or guidance to feel more secure when leaving their areas. Brokers offer to facilitate the illegal movement, smuggling and trafficking of Thai indigenous men, women and children. Brokers take advantage of the desperate circumstances and restricted mobility of hill tribe individuals and exploit them through trafficking and forced labor.

UNESCO recognizes statelessness as a significant risk factor for the hill tribe people to be trafficked and exploited. They cannot obtain certificates that validate their educational qualifications, acquire land titles or secure legitimate employment outside their immediate communities. As a result, sex and child traffickers hoodwink members of the hill tribes into exploitative informal labor arrangements.

Civil Society Organizations

Civil society organizations are taking action to address the lack of legal protections and social welfare support for Thailand’s hill tribes.

For example, the Green Horizon Project (GHP), launched by Plan International and GE Thailand, provides vocational and entrepreneurial training to women, empowering them with skills for starting businesses. GE Thailand volunteers support local schools and students, repairing infrastructure and donating supplies. From repairing school playgrounds and fences to school supply donations, these initiatives reflect the positive changes in the lives of hill tribe people in Thailand, providing them with more opportunities and options for a better future.

Moreover, the Karen Hilltribes Trust (KHT) focuses on improving health and well-being through projects such as water and sanitation initiatives, agricultural support and education access for rural Karen children. KHT ensures that children staying in school dormitories receive three nutritious meals daily, fostering their educational development.

The work of community non-profit organizations is actively addressing these issues and fostering sustainable development. Overall, these efforts aim to empower hill tribe members, provide them with better opportunities and raise awareness about their rights and well-being.

– Freya Ngo
Photo: Unsplash

Child Poverty in Guinea
Guinea is a country located on Africa’s west coast. While it is small, Guinea has some of the largest deposits of iron in the world and has a valuable amount of agricultural and natural resources. However, the country continues to have high poverty rates, with 43.7% of Guineans living below the poverty line in 2018. This situation is primarily due to political unrest and a lack of investment in the country’s infrastructure. Child poverty in Guinea also became exacerbated by poor healthcare and a lack of protection against labor and trafficking.

Health in Guinea

Health in Guinea has been a constant issue that contributes to poverty. The average life expectancy for men is 53 and the average life expectancy for women is 56. Moreover, the infant and maternal mortality rates are high because there is a lack of medical resources in Guinea. Numerous children die from curable and preventable diseases, such as yellow fever, polio, measles and malaria.

Furthermore, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 shed light on other healthcare issues in Guinea. Guinea was one of the Ebola epicenters and, unfortunately, there were not enough doctors, nurses, beds or equipment to aid those in need. With every available resource needed to fight the outbreak, treatments for preventable medical conditions were often not available. Additionally, child malnutrition rose because of the Ebola epidemic, as food prices went up and many families could not afford to eat. Roughly 320,000 children under the age of 5 need medical treatment for malnutrition.

Child Labor and Trafficking

It is estimated that there are about 5.6 million children under the age of 18 in Guinea. Roughly 670,000 of them are growing up without their parents. Many of these children have lost their parents because of AIDS. The significant number of orphans has forced children to work, which is a violation of human rights. There is a lack of oversight for mining activities, so children often end up working in the dangerous conditions of the mines. The harmful substances in mines are dangerous and unsuitable for adults, let alone children. Additionally, children who work in the mines generally drop out of school because they are not able to work and receive an education at the same time.

Child poverty in Guinea has also resulted in child trafficking and sex trafficking. However, there is a concerning lack of data on this topic. Child trafficking remains a big concern in Guinea. In court cases, many of the alleged perpetrators go unpunished. Furthermore, the victims of trafficking are not given the support they need to reintegrate into society.

SOS Children’s Villages

To improve the lives of children in Guinea, it is imperative that support, healthcare and education are provided at an early age. SOS Children’s Villages is an organization that supports children who do not have parental care. With the help of donors, governments, communities and other organizations, it assists impoverished communities and disadvantaged children. SOS Children’s Village’s strategy is solely geared toward sustainable development goals in areas such as child protection, poverty, education, health, inequality and proper work hours. The organization works with locals to aid families that are vulnerable to poverty, so young children can grow up with their families

Candice Lewis
Photo: Flickr

10 Accomplishments Made By ThornIn 2012, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore founded Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children. Thorn is an organization that works globally to fight sex trafficking and the exploitation of children. A documentary on the sex slavery of children in Cambodia inspired Moore to create the organization. Thorn created technology to help identify victims of sexual abuse and protect children from online sexual abuse material. Since its foundation, Thorn has made a large impact in eliminating one of the most common and overlooked crimes in the world. Additionally, Thorn gained traction as a very well-known and respected organization. Below are eight accomplishments made by Thorn.

Top 8 Accomplishments Made by Thorn

  1. In 2017, Thorn created Spotlight. Spotlight is software that helps law enforcement save time by identifying predators and victims quicker. In addition, more than 1,200 law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada use Spotlight. Spotlight has helped reduce critical search time for victims by 60 percent. To date, it has identified a total of 16,927 traffickers and 14,874 children.
  2. In February 2017, Ashton Kutcher gave a 15-minute testimony in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the importance of ending modern-day slavery around the globe. He told a story about when the Department of Homeland Security reached out to his team at Thorn. The Department of Homeland Security needed help to identify the perpetrator of a 7-year-old-girl being abused and watched on the dark web for three years.
  3. In addition to Spotlight, Thorn creates a Technology Task Force. This made up of more than 25 technology companies. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and so forth work together to create even more software to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. Thorn has partnered with a variety of organizations, ranging from government to non-profits. Some other notable partners include Amazon, Twitter, Flickr and Verizon.
  4. In 2018, Thorn surveyed 260 sex trafficking survivors in order to understand the needs of survivors. This survey was able to give insight on average ages of victims, how victims know their traffickers and advertising.
  5. In the 2018 Thorn impact report, it reported that Thorn assisted law enforcement in identifying more than 10,000 victims of child sex trafficking in 38 countries around the world.
  6. In 2018, Thorn educated more than 2,000 teens on Sextortion. Sextortion is a form of blackmail that uses sexual content. Since creating its Stop Sextortion campaign, Thorn has educated more than 3.5 million teens about online sexual extortion.
  7. In 2019, The Audacious Project by TED gave a $280 million grant to eight recipients, Thorn was one of them. Thorn is using grant to launch new software called Safer. Safer helps companies, especially image-hosting websites, identify and eliminate sexual abuse content on their platforms.
  8. With a combination of the software that Thorn has created, the organization is currently able to identify an average of 10 kids per day.

Being less than 10 years old, Thorn has accomplished many things is a short period of time. Though the organization has fewer than 40 employees, Thorn is still able to continuously create and evolve its technology. Thorn already benefits thousands of children worldwide. It will continue to fight child sexual exploitation and trafficking for years to come.

Alyson Kaufman
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

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

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 Southeast Asia in the ’90s sent many families into a panic and scramble for money and resources. Though some street children are living with their families, a good portion of them is 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 ’90s, 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