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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Child Trafficking

There are many issues of concern to the international community when it comes to children, all in serious need of attention. One of the most overlooked yet internationally prevalent, however, is that of human trafficking. Human trafficking is spreading more rapidly than ever before and effects nearly every country on the globe. According to the U.S. Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report, some 600,000-800,000 persons are victims of trafficking each year, seven times more than in 1960. The victims are mostly woman and children who are often used as sex slaves, forced to endure harsh labor or even to fight wars. The numbers do not always include those who remain enslaved in their own countries, and many believe figures on trafficked persons are much higher than officially reported. It is widely believed that there are at least 2 million children used as slaves in the commercial sex industry worldwide. Prices for these modern day slaves are at an all time low, while profits remain high, leading some to believe the problem is worse now than during the days of legalized slavery.

Why are so many children being trafficked today, and where do they come from? Victims of child trafficking exist in every corner of the world, though many tend to come from Southeast Asia, the countries of the former Soviet Union, India, and South America. Much of this is due to the nature of our industrialized world. Victims are lured by traffickers who offer promises of a better life, work opportunities or a chance to live in a more democratic and free society. Some families, desperately poor, are willing sell one of their children as a sacrifice for the rest of the family. However the reality is a far cry from the promise of freedom, or an escape from poverty and hardship. Forced into prostitution or trained to kill in child armies, victims of sexual and psychological exploitation are literally robbed of their childhoods, a commodity that is rarely recovered.

One driver behind trafficking in children and young women is the global sex tourism industry, which thrives on foreign demand. If governments and societies do not enforce laws to protect children from pedophiles, many will continue to travel in search of sex with minors.

As traffickers and brothel owners rake in large profits, this seedy underbelly does not drive capitalism, but merely creates corruption, fuels the drug market, and other illegal and illicit activities.

The fight to curb sex tourism is also marred by heavy police corruption and a lack of enforcement of laws, including very low prosecution of the “Johns and Pimps,” or buyers and sellers of sex. If caught, the penalty is usually little more than a slap on the wrist, allowing the cycle to continue.

Previously published by Cassandra Clifford, please continue reading on the Foreign Policy Association: http://www.fpa.org/topics_info2414/topics_info_show.htm?doc_id=483334

Monday, May 30, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Indian state takes action on child marriage
Police in the Indian state of Rajasthan have taken the rare step of arresting 16 local caste leaders for issuing a decree calling for village community members to ostracize a man who refused to allow his 16-year-old daughter to be married.

Challenging child marriage
Child marriage continues to put 600 million girls worldwide at risk from health problems, abuse and economic disadvantage even though many countries such as India, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe are working to end the custom, says United Nations Foundation Executive Director for Women and Children Tamara Kreinin. The international community must continue to place pressure on developing countries to accelerate change.

Kyrgyz NGO turns spotlight on custom of bride kidnapping
Hundreds in a northern province of Kyrgyzstan last week protested the widespread custom of bride kidnapping -- in which a man kidnaps a woman to pressure her into marriage -- after the suicides of two 20-year-old women who had been seized. "Our researches indicate that between 68 and 75 percent of marriages in Kyrgyzstan take place with bride kidnapping," said a representative of a Kyrgyz nongovernmental organization founded to end the practice, laws against which are rarely enforced.

In Debt, Far From Home and Claiming Servitude
A Vietmanese company partly owned by the government was offering jobs in the United States that paid $15 an hour, plus overtime, they asked for a $10,000 fee to put in touch with an American company seeking laborers. the workers have contended — and the companies have denied — that they were brought here under false pretenses, treated poorly in near isolation and then cast out abruptly long before they expected to finish the work that would have helped them repay their debts.

Minniesota Bill would protect children trafficked for sex
Minnesota lawmakers are considering a bill that would ensure young people engaging in prostitution are treated as victims - not criminals. Prosecutors in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas have already thrown support behind the so-called "safe harbor" law, saying the new approach will get kids the treatment they need and keep them safe.

Africa opens another chapter in fight against human trafficking
Africa opens another chapter in fight against human trafficking. Africa has launched a new two-pronged campaign to operationalise its four-year old continental instrument to address the challenges of trafficking in persons. The latest initiative, a joint programme of the African Union, ECOWAS, the International Organisation on Migration (IOM) and the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), would develop a road map for implementing the Ouagadougou Action Plan agreed by the African Union in 2006.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Child Soldiers Continue to be Recruted in Central African Republic

The use of child soldiers in armed conflict plagues our global society, as thousands of children continue to be recruited into armed conflict by both government forces and armed rebel groups in spite global efforts to combat the continued use of children. UNICEF estimates there are some 300,000 child soldiers actively fighting in at least 30 countries across the globe with the majority, an estimated 200,000 in Africa.

Unfortunately on such African country where the use of child soldiers is not a new topic, is in the Central African Republic (CAR). Child soldiers were recruited by government and opposition forces during armed conflict in the country from 2001 to 2003 during a coup against President Ange-Félix Patassé in support of General François Bozizé, who seized bower in March 2003 and then subsequently won the May 2005. The opposition Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD) and the Union of Democratic Forces (UFDR) who used utilized child soldiers in 2007 expressed willingness to demobilize their child soldiers, but only the UFDR had officially entered a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process by October 2007. Additionally armed groups from neighboring countries extensively recruited child soldiers. They then made subsequent releases of child soldiers for rehabilitation in the next two years following the agreement with the UN.

Previously published by Cassandra Clifford, please continue reading on the Foreign Policy Association's Children's blog: http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com/2011/05/05/child-soldiers-continue-to-be-recruted-in-central-african-republic/