Child exploitation, labor and trafficking is a world-wide problem; approximately 150 million children are victims of child labor. These children are used for sweatshop work, prostituition, farming, the armed service, begging, pornography and forced marriage.
What is Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the third-largest illegal international crime trade, ranking just after arms and drug trafficking. It is prevalent everywhere, including in the United States. Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion in order to obtain labor or commercial sex. Traffickers often move their victims across state or country borders, taking away their cell phones, passports, and papers so they cannot leave. They withhold wages and threaten them with violence. Traffickers exploit their victim's vulnerabilities and lure them with false promises of love, education, work, or a luxurious lifestyle while others are simply taken by force. Human Trafficking operations are orchestrated and carefully planned in order to make victims vulnerable and maintain their vulnerability and dependence. The types of work trafficking victims are forced to do include prostitution, domestic service, agricultural work, factory work, entertainment, and street peddling.
What is Child Labor?
According to the International Labor Organization, child labor is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. Many children are working in industries that endanger their lives for little or no pay. These young victims are often taken away from their families and forced to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions without schooling or regular meals. Child labor can be found in almost every industry—from mining and agriculture to manufacturing and domestic servitude. Children are used for sweatshop work, prostitution, farming, the armed service, begging, pornography, and forced marriage.
COVID-19 & Child Trafficking
The COVID-19 Pandemic is placing an immense burden on the planet, impacting the lives of everyone. Enforced quarantine, curfews and lockdowns, travel restrictions, and limits on economic activity and public life are among the unprecedented measures to lower the infection curve. While these enforcement tactics and increased police presence at the borders and in public appear to deter crime at first glance, they may instead drive it deeper underground, according to studies and statistics. Criminals in the human trafficking sector are adapting their business models to the 'new normal' produced by the outbreak, mainly through modern technology and communication. At the same time, COVID-19 has influenced state authorities' and non-governmental organizations' ability to offer critical assistance to crime victims. Above all, the virus has highlighted and called attention to the structural and deeply ingrained economic and cultural inequities among the fundamental causes of human trafficking.
In addition, COVID-19 is feared to be making the process of identifying human trafficking victims even more difficult while the increase use of the internet for school and socialization is giving traffickers easier access to young children in the safety of their own homes. Traffickers target their younger victims through social media, chat rooms and even video games.
Due to countries shifting their priorities throughout the pandemic, essential and feasible services to help them have become problematic. Significant rises in unemployment and income cuts, particularly among low-wage and informal-sector employees, have placed many individuals who were previously vulnerable in even more precarious situations. For example, millions of people living in poverty have lost their jobs in textile, manufacturing, agriculture, farming industries, and domestic work. Those who continue to labor in these industries, where human trafficking is commonly found, may be subjected to more exploitation due to the need to reduce production costs due to economic hardships and fewer government regulations.
A Look Back at the Past Year: Steps TOLF has Taken to Help:
In the past year and a half, the Touch of Life Foundation has been in contact with local lawmakers and politicians to enact laws to help to deter human trafficking and child labor while aiding victims. We are currently advocating for changes in the US law to protect children from trafficking by fighting for harsher punishments for traffickers and no penalties for trafficked victims who were forced to do illegal activities. We have also approached Congressman Connolley to help support the Care Act Bill, which increases the fine for people who use child labor and increases the working age for children on farms. In fact, his office contacted us back, informing our foundation about his support for the law!
TOLF has also recently helped trafficking survivors integrate back into society through funding education and mental health initiatives by hiring an English teacher and a Psychologist for the rescued survivors. The two both began helping the children in December of 2020. In addition, we were able to donate over 1000 clothes, shoes, and books for the victims.
From a more local perspective, our board members have initiated various programs to educate the public about human trafficking and child labor through media platforms, YouTube, and multiple functions. For example, we have commenced programs and hosted global virtual volunteer sessions to inform individuals and encourage others to take action within their communities, fighting to end human trafficking and forced labor during this difficult time.
If you are interested in our recent accomplishments and video sessions or desire to be informed of our prospective projects, we encourage you to reach out! If you appreciate seeing more of what we do to stop and help spread awareness of human trafficking and child labor, please follow us on social media and check out our informative YouTube channel.
Why We Need Funds For Psychologists & English Teachers:
The Touch of Life Foundation works closely with Kailash Satyarthi, a human rights activist, Nobel Laureate, and the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Child Movement). Established in 1998, the Bal Ashram is the rehabilitation and training center of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, catering to the needs of victims of child labor, child slavery, and child trafficking. Through our fundraisers and your generous donations we are able to provide mental health and educational services by funding psychologists and english teachers for the rescued children at the Bal Ashram.
Child trafficking victims suffer physical and psychological abuse often leading to serious mental health consequences. These include feelings of severe guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Psychological care allows victims to overcome their trauma and assimilate back into society. Additionally, part of the rehabilitation process includes a quality education. Since most of the children below the age of 14 are illiterate, they are trained in basic reading, writing, and english. For these kids, the knowledge of english is one of the most important employability skills, securing them additional job opportunities and allowing them to study abroad for college.
Donate here to help us continue to fund a psychologist and english teacher for children rescued from trafficking.
Types of Child Trafficking
There are many reasons why children are trafficked. The 3 most common reasons for trafficking are for prostitution, debt bondage or forced labor. Approximately ...% of trafficked victim end up in prostitution. Both boys and girls can be victims. Debt bondage exists because the victim is told they need to "repay" a debt that they may have taken or even possibly their ancestors took. Forced labor. Children are also illegally recruited as child soldiers for actual combat or for sexual exploitation by combatants. Organ trafficking also exists because people who are desperate for an organ are willing to pay large sums of money which has lead to this illegal trade. Children are recruited to beg on the street or commit or to pickpocket or steal from others. Some gangs use children for drug trading because authorities do not suspect the young children and they also tend to be obedient. Underage children are sometimes forced into marriages or even sold to marry someone often times much older then them.