Sexual exploitation, forced labor, trafficking and child marriage have many root causes, including gender inequality and instability due to crises. Poverty, however, is one of the most prominent vulnerabilities that can be exploited, regardless of what form the exploitation takes. For example, more than 50 percent of girls from the poorest families in the developing world are married before age 18. Girls in child marriages are also more likely to remain poor than their unmarried counterparts.
While exploitation may disproportionately impact the most economically disadvantaged, education can be a critical tool for addressing poverty and reducing vulnerability to child labor, child marriage and trafficking.
Access to education is a critical right enshrined in Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Education is crucial because it gives the next generation the tools to fight poverty and prevent disease. It can help break cycles of poverty and provide the future generation with more options to reach their full potential. UNICEF's report, Harrowing Journeys, suggests that access to education can reduce a child's likelihood of experiencing exploitation while on the move.
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Photo caption: Girls raise their fists in solidarity at the Ashram boarding school in Thutibar in India's Rayagada district. India has the highest number of child brides in the world. An estimated 27 percent of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday.
Human trafficking — the buying and selling of humans for exploitative purposes — is an industry that thrives on the vulnerability and desperation of its victims. The circumstances under which victims are coerced or deceived into being trafficked vary considerably, from war and natural disasters to poverty and political corruption. These conditions create chaos and fuel the desperation of the civilians affected by them.
Humanitarian crises often lead to human trafficking.
Humanitarian crisis is among these factors and finds itself creeping to the forefront as the number of global crises continues to rise. Because of the many pressing issues to address in the wake of a humanitarian emergency, trafficking is often overlooked as a direct consequence. Instead, it is often viewed as a pre-existing issue.
Although trafficking frequently exists within a region before it is affected by crisis, it is also very often a direct consequence of humanitarian emergencies. The forced armed recruitment of child soldiers, the opportunistic trafficking of displaced persons, the enslavement of persecuted ethnic minorities, the demand for sexual services by armed groups — these are all examples of crisis-specific trafficking.
Traffickers capitalize on loss and destruction to exploit their victims.
Traffickers capitalize on loss and destruction to exploit their victims, navigating the blurred line between consent and desperation as crisis-affected families and individuals fight for survival.
There is evidence of trafficking rates exacerbated by crises all over the world today. Whether it is the trafficking of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh or the exploitation of Central American migrants seeking refuge in the United States, desperate families and individuals often have little choice but to risk exploitation in an effort to survive.
How can you get involved?
Thank you for putting children first!
Thank you for your continued support of our End Trafficking Program. Throughout January, we will spotlight the world’s challenges and opportunities around addressing child exploitation; in particular, we are looking forward to working with passionate people – just like you – to take action to raise awareness of what causes trafficking and commit to building a future where no child experiences exploitation or violence.
This year, we will be focusing on conscious consumerism and how we all can demand an end to trafficking by tackling the root causes that allow exploitation to persist. Many more details are to come, but here are some ways that you can stay in the know as we get closer to January:
Thank you for your continued support and efforts to create a better world for children. We look forward to working alongside you this January and all year long.
July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – a global day of awareness as well as a call to action to end this exploitative industry. To honor this day, End Trafficking co-hosted a Twitter chat with the U.S. Department of Education’s Readiness and Emergency Management Technical Assistance (REMS TA) Center to talk about the role of school communities in addressing child trafficking. We heard contributions from the following organizations about what schools can do or are already doing to keep children safe from exploitation:
Want to learn what YOU can do to end trafficking? Follow @EndTrafficking and @remstacenter and review the conversation by searching the hashtag #EveryChildFree on Twitter.
One of the most rewarding parts of the End Trafficking Project’s work is supporting passionate constituents as they raise awareness about child trafficking. Recently, End Trafficking Fellows supported a screening of the short film, Lalo’s House, starring actress Garcelle Beauvais (known for her roles in Flight, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Coming to America). The movie tells the story of two sisters who find themselves in a child sex trafficking ring posing as a Haitian orphanage.
The film was followed by panelists who shared what inspired the production of the film, as well as ways that the audience members can take action to support trafficking survivors in the U.S. and abroad.
Interested in hosting an event for UNICEF?
Get some event ideas on the End Trafficking Resources page and register your event using the UNICEF USA Fundraising and Events Application.
Take Action Today
Your voice needs to be heard today in support of trafficking surivors. Take a moment to tell your legislators to co-sponsor the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act.
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