FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Scourge of Child Trafficking

by DR. CESAR CHELALA

The suspended death sentence for Zhang Shuxia, former deputy director of obstetrics at Fuping County Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital, for selling seven babies after telling their parents that they had suffered congenital disease or disabilities, shows another facet of the worldwide problem of child trafficking.

It is estimated that 4 million women and girls worldwide are bought and sold each year either into marriage, prostitution or slavery. Over 1 million children enter the sex trade every year (Although most are girls; boys are also involved.)

As many as 50,000 women and children from Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe are brought to the United States and forced to work as prostitutes or servants. In the United States during the past two years, the government has prosecuted cases involving hundreds of victims. In other countries where this problem is frequent the prosecution rate is lower.

Child sex tourism is worldwide phenomenon, but it is concentrated in Asia and Central and South America. According to UNICEF, 10,000 girls annually enter Thailand from neighboring countries and end up as sex workers. Thailand’s Health System Research Institute reports that children in prostitution make up 40% of prostitutes in Thailand. And between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepali girls are transported across the border to India each year and end up in commercial sex work in Mumbai, Bombay or New Delhi.

Although the greatest number of children forced to work as prostitutes is in Asia, Eastern European children from Eastern European countries, such as Russia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic, are increasingly vulnerable.

As a social pathological phenomenon, prostitution involving children does not show signs of abating. In many cases, not only individual traffickers, but also organized groups kidnap children and sell them into prostitution, with border officials and police serving as accomplices.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women called attention to the levels of state participation and complicity in the trafficking of women and children across borders. Because of their often undocumented status, language deficiencies and lack of legal protection, kidnapped children are particularly vulnerable in the hands of smugglers or corrupt and heartless government officials.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is increasing worldwide. There are several reasons. These include increased trade across borders, poverty, unemployment, low status of girls, lack of education (including sex education) of children and their parents, inadequate legislation, lack of or poor law enforcement and the eroticization of children by the media, a phenomenon increasingly seen in industrialized countries.

There are also special social and cultural reasons for children entering into the sex trade in different regions of the world. In many cases, children from industrialized countries enter the sex trade because they are fleeing abusive homes. In countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, children who became orphans as a result of AIDS frequently lack the protection of caregivers and are, therefore, more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.

In South Asia, traditional practices that perpetuate the low status of women and girls in society are at the base of this problem. Children exploited sexually are prone to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. In addition, because of the conditions in which they live, children can become malnourished, and develop feelings of guilt, inadequacy and depression.

Besides the moral and ethical implications, the impact that sexual exploitation has on children’s health and future development demands urgent attention. Throughout the world, many individuals and nongovernmental organizations are working intensely for the protection of children’s rights. Many times, their work puts them in conflict with governments and powerful interest groups.

Among the U.N. agencies, UNICEF has been particularly active in calling attention to this phenomenon and in addressing the root causes of sexual exploitation by providing economic support to families so that their children will not be at risk of sexual exploitation, by improving access to education — particularly for girls — and by becoming a strong advocate for the rights of the child.

The work of such nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies should be a complement to governments’ actions to solve this problem. Those actions should include preventing sexual exploitation through social mobilization and awareness building, providing social services to exploited children and their families and creating the legal framework and resources for psychosocial counseling and for the appropriate prosecution of perpetrators.

The elimination of the sexual exploitation of children around the world is a daunting task, but one that is achievable if effective programs are put in place. Only when this phenomenon is eliminated will we be able to say that the world’s children are exercising their right to a healthy, and peaceful life.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
Leslie Scott
Trump in the Middle East: New Ideas, Old Politics
George Wuerthner
Environmental Groups as Climate Deniers
Pauline Murphy
The Irish Dead: Fighting Fascism in Spain, 1937
Brian Trautman
Veterans on the March
Eric Sommer
Trumps Attack on Social Spending Escalates Long-term Massive Robbery of American Work
Binoy Kampmark
Twenty-Seven Hours: Donald Trump in Israel
Christian Hillegas
Trump’s Islamophobia: the Persistence of Orientalism in Western Rhetoric and Media
Michael J. Sainato
Russiagate: Clintonites Spread the Weiner Conspiracy
Walter Clemens
What the President Could Learn from Our Shih-Tzu Eddie
May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail