The U.S. State Department has just issued its annual report on human trafficking. According to the United Nations children's agency UNICEF, "Some estimates have as many as 1.2 million children being trafficked every year." Children are trafficked as cheap labor or for sexual exploitation, often lured by false promises of better employment and lives in other countries.
To coincide with the release of this year's report, VOA is producing a news series focusing on the special problems of children who are the victims of traffickers. The series, which features international on-the-scene reporting, includes the following stories:
CHILD TRAFFICKING/OVERVIEW: Buying and selling children is internationally recognized as a crime. Political leaders and human rights activists everywhere condemn it. They call it a despicable, abhorrent act. Nevertheless, child trafficking is a thriving, 10-billion-dollar-a-year industry. It spans every region of the globe. In this first of a multi-part series on child trafficking, VOA examines the campaign to wipe out this social evil, and the powerful forces that keep it alive.
CHILD TRAFFICKING/U.S.: Report will feature an interview with Ambassador John Miller, the former Congressman who is the State Department's senior Trafficking-In-Persons (TIP) official, on the Department's annual trafficking report and the problem of child trafficking.
CHILD TRAFFICKING/RUSSIA and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States): A Swiss-based non-governmental organization (NGO) known as Terre D'Homme is in the final stages of introducing a new program in Russia, aimed at stemming the rising flow of children trafficked illegally to Russia from other post-Soviet nations. The group hopes the project will not only help improve the problem in Russia, but serve as a role model to other countries trying to combat the illegal trade.
CHILD TRAFFICKING/WEST AFRICA/LABOR: Governments and civil society groups in West Africa are trying to curb the use of child field workers and child domestic servants who work hundreds of kilometers away from their home villages, but efforts are more focused on improving the children's living conditions rather than ending the practice. There is also resistance from Islamic teachers who use the revenue of the children's work to fund their schools. This story will be based on VOA reporting in Mali and northern Ivory Coast.
CHILD TRAFFICKING/WEST AFRICA/SEX: Much like in other West African countries decayed by civil war, one industry that thrives in Ivory Coast is child prostitution. VOA's report introduces some of these girls and lets them explain why they choose to prostitute themselves.
CHILD TRAFFICKING/SIERRA LEONE: Sierra Leone's street children are getting help from aid organizations to fend off the risks of prostitution, trafficking and exploitation. To what extent are these efforts working?
CHILD TRAFFICKING/SOUTHEAST ASIA: In Southeast Asia, thousands of teenage girls and some boys are pressed into the sex trade. Many are tricked into leaving their rural homes by promises of good jobs in the cities. Aid groups say government efforts to fight the problem are making scant headway. This report takes a look at the destructive implications of this trade for families and communities.
CHILD TRAFFICKING/CAMEL JOCKEYS: Children are trafficked from Pakistan (and also from Sudan, Mauritania and Bangladesh) to the United Arab Emirates for use as camel jockeys. It is an awful practice that commonly involves very young children, child abuse and other gross violations of child rights.
CHILD TRAFFICKING/ETHIOPIA: According to the International Organization for Migration, thousands of girls in Ethiopia are shipped out of the country to the Middle East, especially Lebanon, where they end up as domestic maids and sex workers. What is being done to help these trafficking victims?