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 Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon and the third-largest illegal international trade, after arms and drug trafficking. This heinous crime is also prevalent in the United States.
Child trafficking is the illegal act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a child for the purpose of exploitation. This exploitation can take many forms, including forced labor, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, or participation in criminal activities. Children who are trafficked may be forced to work in sweatshops, mines, or factories, or may be forced into prostitution, pornography, or street peddling.
Victims are forced into labor or commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Children who are trafficked may be taken away from their families or recruited from impoverished communities, and they may be subject to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Traffickers exploit the vulnerabilities of their victims, luring them with false promises of love, education, work, or a luxurious lifestyle, while others are abducted by force. Human trafficking operations are carefully planned and orchestrated to create and maintain victims' vulnerability and dependence. Traffickers often transport their victims across state or country borders, confiscating their cell phones, passports, and other identification documents to prevent them from leaving. They also withhold wages and use threats of violence to maintain control over their victims.
Child trafficking is a serious violation of human rights and is recognized as a form of modern-day slavery. It is a global issue that affects millions of children every year, with many victims being transported across national borders. Efforts to combat child trafficking include law enforcement, victim support services, public awareness campaigns, and prevention strategies.
What is Child Labor?
Child labor is the practice of employing children to work in various industries, often at the expense of their education, health, and well-being. The International Labor Organization defines child labor as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.
Child labor is a serious issue that affects millions of children around the world and can be found in nearly every industry, from mining and agriculture to manufacturing and domestic servitude.
It can take many forms, including working in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, construction, and domestic servitude such as sweatshop work, prostitution, farming, military service, begging, pornography, or forced marriage, among other forms of exploitation. Children may be forced to work long hours in hazardous or unsanitary conditions, often for little or no pay. These young victims are often separated from their families and forced to live in unsanitary and hazardous conditions, without access to education or regular meals.
Child labor is a violation of children's rights and is considered a form of exploitation. It prevents children from accessing education, which can limit their opportunities in life. It also puts children at risk of injury, illness, and other negative health outcomes.
Efforts to combat child labor include laws and regulations to protect children from exploitation, education, awareness campaigns to raise awareness about the issue, and programs to provide support and resources to children and their families.
COVID-19 & Child Trafficking
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world, affecting every aspect of life. Governments have implemented various measures to control the spread of the virus, such as quarantine, curfews, and economic restrictions. While these measures have initially seemed to deter crime, studies, and statistics suggest that they may instead drive it further underground. Criminals in the human trafficking industry have adapted their operations to the "new normal" brought on by the pandemic, utilizing modern technology and communication. However, the virus has also hindered state authorities and non-governmental organizations' ability to provide critical assistance to crime victims.
In addition, the pandemic has made it even more difficult to identify human trafficking victims, with traffickers using social media, chat rooms, and video games to target vulnerable young children in the safety of their homes. Due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, more children have been forced to stay at home and spend more time online, which has led to an increase in online grooming and exploitation. The pandemic has also led to widespread economic hardship, making families more vulnerable to traffickers who may offer false promises of work or income. Those who continue to work in industries where human trafficking is prevalent, such as textile, manufacturing, agriculture, farming, and domestic work, may be subject to greater exploitation due to the need to reduce production costs amidst economic hardships and fewer government regulations.
Reflecting on the Past Years: TOLF's Efforts to Provide Assistance
Over the past 18 months, the Touch of Life Foundation (TOLF) has been actively engaging with local lawmakers and politicians to implement laws that combat human trafficking and child labor, as well as provide assistance to victims. One of our main goals is to lobby for stricter penalties for traffickers and no punishment for trafficking victims who were coerced into participating in illegal activities. We have also partnered with Congressman Connolley to support the Care Act Bill, which seeks to increase the age limit for children working on farms and raise fines for those who use child labor. We are pleased to have received a positive response from his office indicating support for this legislation.
TOLF has also been actively supporting trafficking survivors to reintegrate into society. We have provided funding for education and mental health initiatives by hiring an English teacher and a psychologist to assist rescued survivors. In addition, we have donated over 1000 clothes, shoes, and books for the victims.
At the local level, our board members have launched various programs to raise awareness about human trafficking and child labor through social media platforms, YouTube, and community events. For instance, we have initiated global virtual volunteer sessions to educate individuals and encourage them to take action against these issues during this challenging time.
If you would like to learn more about our recent accomplishments and video sessions or would like to stay informed about our upcoming projects, we encourage you to reach out to us. We also invite you to follow us on social media and check out our informative YouTube channel to learn more about our efforts to combat human trafficking and child labor.
The Importance of Funding for Psychologists and 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.
Support our cause by donating towards funding 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. 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 led to this illegal trade. Children are recruited to beg on the street or 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 oftentimes much older than them.