“People think: Why not just leave, walk out the door and go? But the fear that a pimp puts in a trafficked kid is unbelievable. Danielle was sure that he would come after her and kill her.”
– Jamie, a mother whose daughter was trafficked.
Worldwide, approximately 10 million children are currently subjected to modern slavery – an umbrella term that encompasses forms of child trafficking, forced labor, child marriage, and sexual exploitation. This type of exploitation not only deprives children of their basic human rights, but also often exposes them to violence and abuse.
Luckily, organizations such as UNICEF are working around the globe to address this issue by helping strengthen child protection systems and empowering individuals to confront the harmful social norms that may make a child vulnerable to trafficking in the first place.
A lot of work goes into making the chocolate that we eat. Cocoa – grown in certain areas along the equator – can be a very labor-intensive plant to grow and harvest. In countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, child labor and child trafficking have become an issue on cocoa farms; however, community members in Koffikro decided to turn the tables by educating others on the importance of placing children in school and providing assistance with school fees when necessary. Additionally, local cocoa farmers worked together to find ways to make farming efficient without having to rely on child labor. This is just one example of a global UNICEF program that is working towards a day where no child has to experience exploitation or violence.
Human trafficking does not just occur on cocoa farms or in far off countries. Every year, trafficking is reported in all 50 U.S. states, and it can take many forms ranging from migrant farming and factory work to commercial sexual exploitation.
One mother, Jamie shared the story with UNICEF USA of how her daughter, Danielle, was trafficked. As a freshman at college, Danielle met a man who presented himself as being sincere and interested in learning more about her. This man eventually became Danielle’s pimp, forcing her to work eighteen hour days and repeatedly subjecting her to violence:
Danielle was eventually able to leave her situation and is now an anti-trafficking advocate. Her story represents what many children in the U.S. experience every day. Those who are homeless are especially at risk of being trafficked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reporting in 2017 that one of every seven endangered runaway youth directed to the organization had likely been sex trafficked.
Child trafficking is both complicated and widespread, but there are things we can do to bring these injustices to an end. UNICEF USA’s End Trafficking Project works to educate Americans about what child trafficking is so that we can all take steps to stop the cycle of exploitation.
The End Trafficking Project supports the work of amazing organizations that stand by survivors in advocating for crucial legislation, such as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017. You can support our work right here on GlobalGiving or get involved directly by visiting our Resources page for educational tools and activity guides. Together, an exploitation-free future is possible.