The Covid-19 pandemic has put travelling and tourism largely on hold in the past 1.5 years. Gradually the world gets vaccinated and opens up to travelling again, albeit under strict conditions. In the wake of this intensifying travelling, child trafficking is also picking up. Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation including in travel and tourism, but also for exploitative labour and domestic servitude.
Child trafficking has never stopped, despite (inter)national travel bans and closure of borders when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Moreover, children have been deeply affected by the pandemic. The economic and psychosocial consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak led to an increase in domestic violence, sexual abuse, pushing more children into exploitation. Vulnerable children were already at a higher risk of exploitation such as trafficking. By re-opening the borders, the expectation is that child trafficking will further increase, in particular for sexual exploitation in travel and tourism.
“I have learned to amplify my voice within the community” - Child rights champion Sakibur from Bangladesh rescued a 13-year old girl while she was being trafficked to neighbouring India. Economic hardship following the Covid-19 pandemic had made her parents agree to marry the girl off.
“I feel a sense of safety and security” - 15-year-old Tigist* from Ethiopia was trafficked into Sudan during the Covid-19 pandemic. She was exploited in domestic labour, abused and even imprisoned as an illegal immigrant.
“I am happy that the man got arrested” - Sokchea* from Cambodia was only 11 years old when he met a foreigner who lured him into sexual exploitation. A year later, the man was apprehended while he was with Sokchea.
“Life has changed” - At the age of fourteen, Isaac from Kenya had to step in to provide for his family when his father lost his job. He became prey of traffickers and had to be rescued from neighbouring Uganda.
Human trafficking has three dimensions:
We save children from child trafficking. We work with informants along the main migration routes. We also train government officials and social workers, so that they can recognise victims of child trafficking. We reunite rescued children as much as possible with their family. Through psychosocial support, trafficking survivors get help to process their experiences.
We make children resilient against child trafficking, by explaining to them what these practices entail, that they are illegal and have negative consequences for them. We do the same with their parents/caregivers and with the communities in which they live.
We collaborate with local civil society organisations and the private sector, so that they too contribute to the fight against child trafficking. For instance, transport companies (such as bus companies) can ask their drivers to be vigilant when children are traveling alone.
We collaborate with local and national governments to improve and implement their child protection policies and to enforce their anti-trafficking laws. We strengthen law enforcement agencies, for instance through training, in detecting and prosecuting perpetrators.
Since human trafficking happens with a specific purpose, Terre des Hommes focuses on more than just child trafficking. Related forms of child exploitation, such as sexual exploitation of chidren and child labour, are on our radar as well.
Enjoy your holiday, but do not look away from child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Join us in the fight against child exploitation. Donate now!