By Hanna Cody | Global Citizenship Fellowship Program
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:
3Strands Global Foundation
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
Students Opposing Slavery, President Lincoln’s Cottage
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Homeless Education
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.
“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. Thistype of exploitationnot 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, childlabor and child trafficking havebecome an issue on cocoa farms; however, community members inKoffikrodecided 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 aglobalUNICEF 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, Jamieshared the story with UNICEF USAof 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. Thosewhoare homeless are especially at risk of being traffickedwiththe National Center for Missing and Exploited Childrenreportingin 2017 that one of every seven endangered runaway youthdirected 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.
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