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Children’s Investment Fund Foundation Reduces PovertyChildren account for nearly half of the world’s poor and arguably suffer the most because of it. Limited access to education, drinking water, food and opportunity are all symptoms of poverty that make it difficult for impoverished children to thrive. Unfortunately, only one-third of the world’s poorest children are covered by social protection from their governments. Therefore, it is essential for nongovernmental organizations and charities to help provide aid, investment and infrastructure that can help lift these children out of poverty. Several organizations have already helped uplift over one billion people out of poverty, many of these being children, in the last 20 years; one of these organizations is the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).

What Is the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation?

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation is one of the largest charitable organizations in the world and incorporates a multi-faceted investment strategy to improve the environments in which impoverished children live. The Foundation diversifies its $4.7 billion worth of assets into investments to help improve climate, education, access to food and child survival in developing countries. CIFF was founded in 2002 by Jamie Cooper-Hohn and hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn and has grown from its headquarters in London to include offices in New Delhi India and Nairobi Kenya.

How Does CIFF Reduce Poverty?

As the fund has expanded its operations, it has provided lifesaving and poverty-reducing initiatives for poor children in developing countries. In 2013, CIFF pledged to donate $787 million over seven years to tackle global malnutrition. This was part of a total pledge of $4.1 billion toward reducing malnutrition announced at the Nutrition for Growth summit in London. A study by the Lancet medical journal found that malnutrition contributes to 3.1 million under-five child deaths yearly or 45 percent of all under-five deaths. Reducing malnutrition saves lives, improves health and accelerates development in countries by providing a future for millions of children.

The fund has coupled this tremendous effort, with more targeted approaches toward various crises that have devastated impoverished children in affected countries. In 2014, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation gave $120 million to international health programs, increasing the number of children receiving antiretroviral therapy, funding deworming initiatives and combating the Ebola crisis in West Africa. These programs have helped save millions of lives.

Roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are common in tropical areas and specifically affect children in low-income areas who lack adequate access to sanitation. Worms contribute to the malnutrition of children in developing nations that kill millions each year. The $50 million donation to national deworming programs by CIFF will help establish the necessary healthcare and sanitation infrastructure that can help protect these vulnerable children. Furthermore, CIFF’s $50 million contribution to increasing access to antiretroviral therapy will help save the lives of the over 120,000 impoverished children who die from AIDS each year while its $20 million towards the Ebola outbreak in West Africa helped end the crisis.

CIFF continues to expand access to life-saving healthcare for poor children in developing nations. Recently, it has bolstered these efforts by supporting initiatives to protect children in developing nations from exploitation that bars them from access to an education that could lift them out of poverty. An estimated 25 percent of people trapped in slavery are children. CIFF has already pledged $18.3 million to protect children worldwide. This funding is going toward strengthing law enforcement systems, ensuring swift prosecutions of offenders, stopping the demand for products of child labor and campaigning to instill change.

These programs funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation reduce poverty by freeing impoverished children from the bounds that keep them from rising out of poverty. Good health, human rights and access to education are now within reach for millions of children because of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

– Anand Tayal
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

Causes of Human Trafficking
Likened to modern slavery, human trafficking is driven mostly by similar motivations to those of slavery. The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as the “illegal trade of humans for exploitation or commercial gain.” Exploitation frequently involves forcing victims into prostitution or slavery. Human trafficking can be separated into sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Though they have different purposes, there are general trends that explain the overall root causes of human trafficking.

According to a 2012 International Labour Organization (ILO) report, 21 million people are victims of forced labor. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced laborers in the world with 11.7 million victims (56 percent of the global total), followed by Africa with 3.7 million (18 percent) and Latin America with 1.8 million victims (nine percent).

According to the Huffington Post, approximately 75 to 80 percent of human trafficking and slavery is for sex. The rest are forced into labor exploitation, such as agriculture and construction work. In 2015, 5,544 cases of human trafficking were reported, as stated in a study by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Top 5 Causes of Human Trafficking

  1. Poverty, war, natural disasters and a search for a better life. Traffickers look for people who are susceptible to coercion into the human trafficking industry. Those people tend to be migrants, fleeing their homes either because of economic hardship, natural disasters, conflict or political instability. The displacement of populations increases individuals’ emotional vulnerability, and frequently they do not have the financial support to protect themselves. This makes them subject to abuse through trafficking.
  2. Women and children are targets. In some societies, the devaluation of women and children make them far more vulnerable to trafficking than men. Traditional attitudes and practices, early marriage and lack of birth registration further increase the susceptibility of women and children. They are also targeted because of the demand for women in sex trafficking. A report by Equality Now states that 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. Women and girls make up 98 percent of the victims trafficked for sexual exploitation.
  3. Demand for cheap labor. The service industry, particularly restaurants and kitchens, are common exploiters of human trafficking. There is also a demand for cheap domestic and agricultural labor. Employees are often initially promised a safe work space and a steady salary, only to later find that they are paid less than minimum wage and worked over time. Business owners guilty of this behavior continue to practice these illegal norms because the victims of trafficking can rarely protect themselves and they have very few alternatives.
  4. Human trafficking generates a huge profit. According to the ILO, the human trafficking industry generates a profit of $150 billion per year. Two-thirds is made from commercial sexual exploitation, while the remainder comes from forced economic exploitation such as domestic work and agriculture. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing and second-largest criminal industry in the world, after drug trafficking.
  5. Cases of human trafficking are difficult to identify. Some challenges in identifying victims of human trafficking arise because victims are well-hidden or highly traumatized. Those that are traumatized are unlikely to divulge information to investigators, either because they are scared to confront law enforcement, or because they are too troubled to respond. Consumers of human trafficking also contribute to the crime’s hidden nature, according to a report by the Urban Institute. Both traffickers and consumers are aware of the huge risk they take by participating in this illegal behavior and will do their best to cover up any illicit activity.

Initiatives to diminish these causes of human trafficking include international cooperation agreements, national policies against trafficking, improved immigration policies that can detect the exit or entry of humans being illegally trafficked, and increased infrastructure to protect those that are being exploited for labor or sex.

Michelle Simon

Sources: The Atlantic, US State Department, Urban Institute, International Labour Organization, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, UNICEF, National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Huffington Post, The Department of Homeland Security, Equality Now
Photo: Flickr