FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Unabated Scourge of Child Trafficking

Recent unconfirmed reports that Sen. Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat, hired prostitutes, one of them underage, in the Dominican Republic and other places, brings to light the worldwide phenomenon of children trafficking and abuse.

In the book ‘Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal,” Conor Grennan, a young American, describes his efforts to work at an orphanage called Little Princes Children’s Home, in the town of Godavari, in Nepal. Fearful that their children would end up being abducted by the Maoists, many parents pay for the children to be taken to a safe place like this orphanage. He found out later, however, that many of them ended up being sold by child traffickers and working as sex slaves.

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

More articles by:

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.”

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail