Child trafficking in Asia

Kinderhandel in Azië Terre des Hommes

All over the world, people move to other countries or regions, in search of a better life. In Asia, 21 per cent of migrants are children and young people. They often face discrimination, abuse, neglect and exploitation, both in transit and at their destination. Also, child migrants risk becoming the victims of human traffickers. Every year, an estimated 1.2 million children become the victims of child trafficking. They end up in prostitution or criminality, or are forced to do dangerous and hard labour.

Background

Countries in Asia still do too little for child migrants. They are looked upon as outsiders who are not allowed to have rights and access to provisions. Fortunately, this way of thinking is slowly changing. Asian countries are increasingly working together to protect child migrants.

Goals

We focus on child migrants, including (potential) victims of child trafficking, their families and communities. In this programme we particularly focus on vulnerable children, who are economically, physically or socially disadvantaged, such as children from ethnic minorities. The results of our programme obviously need to be sustainable. This is why we also involve ministries (such as health, education and justice) and international and civil society organisations, the media and companies in our work.

Objectives:

  • 20.000 boys and girls no longer are at risk of becoming the victims of child trafficking and exploitation.
  • 122.000 vulnerable children are aware of the dangers of child trafficking and migration.
  • 18.000 vulnerable children have received education.
  • 13.000 exploited/abused children have received education.
  • 7.000 exploited/abused children have received legal aid.
  • 255.000 members of communities with children prone to exploitation know the risks of child trafficking and migration.
  • 17.500 government staff, including police and justice staff, have followed a training in protecting children, childrights and child-friendly questioning techniques.

What we do

Together with our local partners we want to make sure India, NepalBangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines protect the rights of child migrants (including victims of child trafficking). Governments must better apply existing laws or improve the legislation on this subject. For example, this also goes for the procedures and services they use in the process. In any case, they are no longer allowed to discriminate between nationality, background and immigration status of child migrants and local children.

Countries must do the following for child migrants:

  • Developing and implementing protecting measures (along migrations routes, among other things). They need to screen child migrants the right way (identifying vulnerable children or victims of exploitation/trafficking)

  • Make sure government agreements for the protection of child migrants (including victims of child trafficking) are implemented.

  • Developing a national database. The collected data enables countries to better map child trafficking and determine its scope.

  • Make sure child migrants have a say in the measures that are taken for their protection.

  • Adopting concrete plans of action for combating child trafficking in national development plans.

  • Involve civil society in agreements for the protection of child migrants.

  • The families of children saved from child trafficking should be offered the chance to improve their living conditions, so they do not need to find their happiness elsewhere.

  • Implementing child-friendly procedures and other reforms of the legal systems that victims saved from child trafficking and other child migrants are faced with.

We help countries doing this with the following strategies:

Prevention

We want to prevent unsafe migration and child trafficking by telling children and their families about the dangers. By giving families the possibility to build a better future in their home country, the chances of them migrating also become smaller. And if they decide to go, they (and their children) must know which routes pose the fewest risks. This is why we have, among other things, information meetings, create hotlines for child migrants, make sure they and their families can attend training courses and we develop interactive websites and apps, enabling them to communicate with each other and with aid workers through these.

Protection

Together with our partners, we help the victims of child trafficking and child migrants that were abused or exploited. Our aid includes providing education, shelter, medical aid, psychosocial support and family reunification.

Promotion and lobby

Together with our partners we lobby with governments, companies and other parties involved. They must take the responsibility to protect child migrants and victims of child trafficking. This is why for instance we organise awareness campaigns for companies that exploit children, consumers, policy makers and the children themselves.

Legal aid

We advocate the prosecution of human traffickers and exploiters. We also support the victims of child trafficking with legal aid. Police and justice staff receive training from us, enabling them to question victims in a child-friendly way. We also stimulate communities to collect and report information on suspected child trafficking or exploitation.

Results

Some of the results of our work in the field of child trafficking and unsafe child migration in the first part of 2017:

  • In Cambodja 58 boys and 86 girls have been brought to safety
  • In Bangladesh 603 civil servants, like teachers, laywers and other stakeholders in the fight against child trafficking received training
  • In Laos 29 children and adolescents have been trained as 'agents of change' to raise awareness about child trafficking and unsafe migration in their communities
  • In Myanmar 188 community members participated in educational activities to raise awareness
  • In India 2.358 community members with vulnerable children participated in awareness raising activities
  • In Thailand 29 representatives of ngo's received children's rights training, and learned how to promote children's rights within the public and private sector
  • In Myanmar 19 street theatershows for children were organised to raise awareness about child trafficking.