Child Exploitation and Child Trafficking

Listening to the counter child trafficking global online conference  http://counterchildtrafficking.org/  that’s on it’s last day today has made me think of some of the acute challenges and terrible situations I’ve either seen or heard about over the years around the world.

I know that child exploitation is much more organised now on a global level from a criminal point of view as there’s big money to be made in trafficking or abusing children for profit. Tens of thousands of children cross borders every year to be sold into sexual slavery or domestic servitude. Thousands of young children are press ganged into joining rebel armies and are dehumanised – very soon becoming torturers and killers, often of their own families to prove their worth.

Sometimes the complications of child abuse rear their heads. For example when I visited Colombo in Sri Lanka several years ago I walked along the beach and within the space of 5 minutes was offered children under the age of 5, either sex, for the price of a pint of beer. Now this has to be interrupted and challenged and the child made safe. The back story was that, as there was no social security or welfare system in Sri Lanka, this child was one of eight and the only earner for the family. Therefore when their abuse was interrupted the family income was stopped. No excuse but a double blow for the other children in the family.

UNICEF and other world wide organisations work extremely hard to highlight and intervene if possible where children are at risk, but the sheer scale of the problem – especially as the earning power to organised crime from exploitation of children is huge – is almost beyond comprehension.

With the inexorable rise of the internet and its dark side it seems that law enforcement and protection agencies are being stretched to the limit in keeping pace with what is turning into a gold mine for criminals. There are going to have to be radical solutions and possibly even a denting of some human rights to even get to a situation where we are keeping up with our duty to protect the vulnerable.

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