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A 14-Year-Old Mulls “The Price of Freedom” and Decides to Engage in the Battle to End Child Labor

By Nikeeta Singh

Nikeeta Singh is a 14-year-old student in New Delhi, India.

 

It is said that childhood is the best gift given to us by God. Everything is different when you’re a child: the trees are higher, the colours are more vivid than ever, and every new day is a new opportunity.

However, childhood is not the same for all. For some it is waking up at six in the morning and working till the sun sets; it is staying away from your parents to earn minimum wages; it is working in inhumane environments in hopes of a brighter future. This is the reality of child labour.

Nikeeta Singh

Child labour is experienced by every one in ten children around the globe. At the age when children should worry about their marks they are worrying about their health and economic status. But how can we blame these innocent angels? Uneducated parents are one of the major sources that contribute to child labour. It is the children of poor and marginalized communities who are often trafficked and forced into labour. Parents of these children are either betrayed or lured into schemes due to their lack of awareness and poor socio-economic conditions, forcing them to send or sell their children for better livelihood options. Traffickers promise daily wages to parents of young children and transport them to big cities where they are often treated as commodities. Families in dire financial conditions are can be approached by traffickers with an offer to buy their children, and with no other escape from their pitiful conditions, parents comply.

One of the major effects of child labour on children is losing access to education. Every day, some 218 million children around the world go to work instead of school—152 million are trapped in child labour (work which harms their development). Education is the route out of poverty for many children. It gives them a chance to gain the knowledge and skills needed to improve their lives; however, many a times their education is treated as a luxury, not a necessity.

In India, there is a great need for convergence and implementation of comprehensive child protection mechanisms. Indian children are exposed to multiple vulnerabilities. With thousands of children still working in brick kilns, construction sites, and agricultural land, trafficking for the sake of forced child labour is widely prevalent. Apart from this, horrific stories emerge daily of girls as young as 9 years old being forced into the sex trade. Apart from this, children are also sold by their parents to work in factories and industries in toxic environments that are highly dangerous.

“If a child is denied education and forced to work instead, violence has been inflicted,” noted Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi. “If a child and its parents are denied opportunities for a promising tomorrow, violence has been inflicted. If a child reels under poverty, violence has been inflicted. If obstacles are laid in the path of a child, inhibiting her progress and development, violence has been inflicted.”

As evil of a sin child labour is, there have been many improvements. Organisations such as Child Rights and You (CRY), CHILDLINE India Foundation, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, the International Labour Organisation and numerous others have taken up the initiative to ensure that every child in the world is free, safe, healthy, receives quality education, and has the opportunity to realise their potential.

Today, as we speak 100 million children have fallen prey to child labour. The current COVID-19 pandemic can potentially increase the number and further aggravate the problem in regions where child labour has been more resistant to policy and programme measures. The level of global economic integration and the current crisis are likely to have a large and possibly lasting worldwide adverse socio-economic and financial impact.

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How Climate Change Can Make More Children Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

By Colleen O’Day

Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster ever to hit Puerto Rico, wipes out the island’s power grid. A heat wave nicknamed Lucifer scorches southern Europe. Hurricane Harvey, the second-costliest Atlantic tropical cyclone in history, submerges Texas and Louisiana under trillions of gallons of rain. Drought again grips East Africa, leaving millions of people short of food and water.

Natural disasters have always been a part of the weather cycle. But with climate change, the cycles of floods and droughts are expected to grow both more frequent and more severe.

That may well drive more children around the globe into the hands of human traffickers.

Poverty and natural disasters are a recipe for desperation. In 2015, Nepal, where 1 in 5 children under 18 are laborers – one of the highest rates in the world – was rocked by a pair of earthquakes that left some 3 million people homeless. World Vision, GoodWeave, and other nonprofit organizations working on the ground in Nepal found signs that the calamity had led to dramatic increases in child labor and child trafficking.

Global criminal rings exploit any disruption to people’s lives to lure victims into bonded labor, fraudulent adoptions, coerced commercial sex, or outright slavery. Extreme weather exacts the greatest suffering on the world’s poorest people. And children are the most vulnerable of all.

Annalisa Enrile, a professor with the online Doctor of Social Work program at the University of Southern California, sees climate change and human trafficking linked in surprising ways.… Read the rest

Guest Blog: To Fight the Spread of Cybersex Trafficking, Anti-trafficking Organizations Need to Innovate

Colleen O'Day, writer and anti-trafficking advocate

Colleen O’Day

Controlling the spread of human trafficking is a monumental challenge. Traffickers are innovating in the tactics that they use to exploit millions of victims, underscoring the difficulty of responding to an international epidemic that can look completely different from case to case and country to country. The rapid expansion of internet access across the globe, for example, has enabled people who would otherwise have limited ability to engage in exploitation to participate in the victimization of child trafficking victims from the convenience of their home.

A recent investigation by The Associated Press highlights the nature of cybersex trafficking and those who profit from this exploitation. Chronicling the bust of David Deakin, an Illinois native who relocated to the Philippines, the AP piece exposes not only the means that many of these perpetrators use to exploit children, but also the mentality of many traffickers and the customers who engage in this specific form of trafficking.

Similar to victims of other forms of trafficking, cybersex trafficking victims often come from impoverished communities, with children in particularly vulnerable positions. Where there is a great deal of sex trafficking in general, such as in countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, there is likely to be a great deal of cybersex trafficking.

In many instances, parents or older family members exploit children and force them to perform sex acts for predators living in other countries. Families who need money rationalize their actions by pointing to the barrier of the internet.

“There seems to be this notion of morality; people splicing the definition of sex,” says Annalisa Enrile, an expert in human trafficking and professor at the University of Southern California’s online MSW program. “They rationalize their behavior by thinking, ‘It’s not really sex because it’s happening via the internet.’ This simply isn’t true.”

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Technology in the Fight Against Trafficking: Tracking Criminals and Helping Victims

By Mary Donovan, CLC Contributing Writer

Mary DonovanFrom mobile phones to big data analytics, technology can help in the fight against human trafficking. Access to a phone can enable a victim to call friends, family, or a hotline for help. Data trends enable us to study the patterns of trafficking and to know where to combat it. On the other hand, technology is definitely part of the problem of trafficking, as traffickers are quickly incorporating technology trends and social media in their recruitment of victims. This is why it is crucial to use technology as part of the solution.

While each incident of human trafficking differs in specifics, all have three clear steps, the acquisition step, the transportation step, and the final step of forced labor. Technology can help in each phase.

With access to technology, human trafficking can be avoided in the first place. Technology could directly connect a worker with a safe job, eliminating the need for a middleman, who may exploit the worker. Think of the impact of AirBnB and Uber on the hotel and taxi industries. What if workers could locate honest labor recruiters directly with technology? The supply side of human trafficking would diminish.

The Centro de los Derechos de Migrants launched a website, contratados.com, which allows temporary Mexican workers to share their experiences working in the United States. The website also accepts reviews by text message and telephone. Workers can warn other workers, so labor abuses are not perpetuated and new migrant workers do not unknowingly put themselves in positions to be trafficked.

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