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Trafficking of children


Trafficking of children

Trafficking of children or the sale of children is a form of human trafficking and is defined as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, and/or receipt" of a child for the purpose of exploitation.[1]

Though statistics regarding the magnitude of child trafficking are difficult to obtain, the International Labour Organization estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. The trafficking of children has been internationally recognized as a major human rights violation, one that exists in every region of the world. Yet, it is only within the past decade that the prevalence and ramifications of this practice have risen to international prominence, due to a dramatic increase in research and public action. A variety of potential solutions have accordingly been suggested and implemented, which can be categorized as four types of action: broad protection, prevention, law enforcement, and victim assistance.

The major international documents dealing with the trafficking of children are the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1999 I.L.O. Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention and the 2000 U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.


  • Definition 1
    • Related legal instruments 1.1
      • International human rights instruments 1.1.1
      • Labour and migration treaties 1.1.2
      • Trafficking-specific instruments 1.1.3
      • Regional instruments 1.1.4
      • National law 1.1.5
  • Types of child trafficking 2
    • Forced labour 2.1
    • Sexual exploitation 2.2
    • Children in armed forces 2.3
    • Children in drug trades 2.4
    • Child begging 2.5
      • Demographics 2.5.1
      • Causes 2.5.2
        • Economic factors
        • Political factors
        • Cultural factors
      • General abuses 2.5.3
      • Long-term implications 2.5.4
      • Solutions 2.5.5
        • International action
        • Government response
        • NGO initiatives
        • Other methods
    • Child exchange 2.6
    • Sales motivated by cash 2.7
  • Mechanisms 3
    • Supply and demand framework 3.1
    • Social mechanisms 3.2
  • Prevalence 4
    • Worldwide 4.1
    • Regional 4.2
    • History 4.3
  • Impacts 5
    • Children and families 5.1
    • Communities 5.2
    • Nations 5.3
  • Proposed solutions 6
    • Relevant organizations 6.1
  • In Popular Culture 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • Works Cited 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13


The first major international instrument dealing with the trafficking of children is part of the 2000 United Nations

  • UNICEF: Child protection from violence, exploitation, and abuse
  • Extensive searchable library of scholarly resources
  • International Framework for Action - To Implement the Trafficking in Persons Protocol
  • Operational Indicators of Trafficking in Human Beings 2009
  • Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking
  • Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation – Textbook 1: Understanding Child Trafficking
  • Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation - Textbook 2: Action against Child Trafficking at Policy and Outreach Levels
  • Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation – Textbook 3: Matters of Process
  • United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking
  • United States Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report - 2011
  • Child Trafficking in Germany, German Federal Office of Statistics 1995 - 2012

External links

  • Several cases of sale or attempted sale described in what is largely a primary source: Grennan, Conor, Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal (N.Y.: William Morrow, 1st ed. 2010 (ISBN 978-0-06-193005-8)), esp. pp. 39–41 (esp. p. 40), 77, 134, 227–228, 231, & 249–257 (author graduate of Univ. of Virginia & NYU Stern Sch. of Bus., volunteer Little Princes Children's Home, Godawari, Nepal (2004), founder Next Generation Nepal)

Further reading

[1] [2] [3] [4]

Works Cited

  1. ^ a b c d United Nations (2000). "U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children". Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap I.L.O, UNICEF, and UN.GIFT (2009). "Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation – Textbook 1: Understanding Child Trafficking". Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b United Nations (1989). "Convention on the Rights of the Child". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ United Nations (1948). "United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Nature 169 (4295): 310.  
  5. ^ a b I.L.O. (1973). "Minimum Age Convention". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ I.L.O. (1999). "Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ I.L.O. (1999). "Worst Forms of Child Labor Recommendation No. 190". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ I.L.O. (1930). "I.L.O Forced Labor Convention". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ I.L.O (1949). "Migrant Workers Convention". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ United Nations (1990). "United Nations Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002). "Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ UNICEF (2011). "State of the World's Children 2011: Adolescence, an Age of Opportunity". Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d e I.L.O. (2010). "Fast Facts on Child Labour 2010". Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  14. ^ Mccabe, K. A. (2008). In The Trafficking of Persons. New York, NY: Petter Lang.Mccabe, K. A. (2008). In The Trafficking of Persons. New York, NY: Petter Lang.
  15. ^ a b United Nations (2000). "Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  16. ^ I.L.O. "Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c I.L.O. "Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents: The I.L.O.'s Response". Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  18. ^ UNICEF (2006). "The State of the World's Children 2006: Excluded and Invisible". Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  19. ^ Kunze, Erin I. (2010). "Sex Trafficking Via the Internet: How International Agreements Address the Problem and Fail to Go Far Enough". Journal of High Technology Law. 241-289 10. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  20. ^ Hughes, D.M. (Spring 2000). "The Internet and Sex Industries: Partners in Global Sexual Exploitation". Technology and Society Magazine 19 (1): 35–42.  
  21. ^ "Illinois Sheriff Sues Craigslist Over Sex Ads". NPR. March 6, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  22. ^ The Associated Press (March 5, 2009). "Illinois: Sheriff Sues Craigslist". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  23. ^ Miller, Claire Cain (September 4, 2010). "Craigslist Blocks Access to 'Adult Services' Pages". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b United Nations (2000). "Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict". Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  25. ^ I.L.O. "Child Labour and Armed Conflict". Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  26. ^ International Bureau for Children's Rights (2010). "Children and Armed Conflict: A Guide to International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law". Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2008). "Child Soldiers: Global Report 2008". Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  28. ^ International Criminal Court (14 October 2005). Warrant of Arrest unsealed against five LRA Commanders. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  29. ^ International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy (February 16, 2012). "Afghan Children Ensnared in Heroin Trade with Iran". Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  30. ^ I.L.O. (2002). "Brazil Children in Drug Trafficking: A Rapid Assessment". Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  31. ^ Dowdney, Luke (2003). Children of the Drug Trade. Viveiros de Castro Editora Ltda. 
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i Delap, Emily. "Begging For Change: Research findings and recommendations on forced child begging in Albania/Greece, India and Senegal." Anti-Slavery International, 2009. Print.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Cherneva, Iveta. "Human Trafficking For Begging." Buffalo Human Rights Law Review 17 (2011): 25. LexisNexis Academic: Law Reviews.
  34. ^ Brussels Declaration on Preventing and Combating Trafficking, 2002,
  35. ^ a b c World Bank Social Development Notes: Conflict, Crime, and Violence, 2009.
  36. ^ a b c "Action to Prevent Child Trafficking Report." UNICEF, 2006.
  37. ^ Craig 2010, p. 29
  38. ^ a b c d Pumin, Yin. "Saving Child Panhandlers." Beijing Review 54.9 (2011). 18-19. EBSCOhost. 9 February 2012.
  39. ^ Human Rights Watch 2010, p. 10
  40. ^ a b c d e f g UNICEF. "Study On Street Children In Zimbabwe" (2011).
  41. ^ a b c Burke, Jason, and Saad Hammadi. "Bangladesh Arrest Uncovers Evidence of Children Forced to Beg." The Guardian [London] 9 Jan. 2011. Print.
  42. ^ Delap 2009, p. 6.
  43. ^ Delap 2009, p. 12
  44. ^ Sullivan, Kevin. "A Generation's Future Goes Begging." The Washington Post [Jakarta, Indonesia] 7 Sept. 1998. Print.
  45. ^ a b Craig, Gary. "Child Slavery Now." Portland: The Policy Press, 2010.
  46. ^ Sidner, Sarah. "Gang Profits from Maimed Child Beggars." CNN Freedom Project (2011).
  47. ^ a b c Wells, Matthew. "Off the Backs of the Children: Forced Begging and Other Abuses Against Talibes in Senegal." New York, New York: Human Rights Watch, 2010
  48. ^ a b U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000, p.1468.
  49. ^, 2006
  50. ^ "Study on the Practice of Trafficking in Persons in Senegal." USAid (2004). United States Agency For International Development.
  51. ^ McCabe, K.A. (2008). The role of internet providers in cases of child pornography and child protection. Social Science Computer Review, 26(2), 247-251.
  52. ^ Meredith, Robyn, The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means For All of Us (N.Y.: W. W. Norton, 1st ed., hardcover 2007 (ISBN 978-0-393-06236-6)), p. 19 & nn. 10 & 11 (People's Republic of China & ca. 1958 per p. 18) ("a number of Chinese and Western scholars have documented starvation and cannibalism during Mao's Great Leap Forward, but these accounts of what happened in China's countryside are taken from" Becker, Jasper, Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine (N.Y.: Free Press, 1996), per The Elephant and the Dragon, id., p. 19 n. 11).
  53. ^ Mulholland, Angela (12 September 2013). "Re-homing adopted children: Investigation finds parents trading, selling kids online". CTV News. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  54. ^ Romano, Aja (9 September 2013). "Internet 'rehoming': The dark side of international adoptions". Daily Dot. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  55. ^ Bradley, Keith, Slavery and Society at Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pbk. 1994 (ISBN 0-521-37887-7)), p. 37 (book on "central period of Roman history", ca. 200 B.C. to ca. A.D. 200) (author prof. classics, Univ. of Victoria).
  56. ^ Nepal: The Orphan Business
  57. ^ Leslie Stone and Kishor Kunwar on Nepal's orphan trade
  58. ^ Feingold, David A. (2005). "Human Trafficking". Foreign Policy 150.  
  59. ^ Bales, Kevin (1999). Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 
  60. ^ a b c United States Department of State (2011). "Trafficking in Persons Report". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  61. ^ Wheaton, Elizabeth M.; Edward J. Schauer; Thomas V. Galli (2010). "Economics of Human Trafficking". International Migration 48 (4): 114–41.  
  62. ^ UNESCO (2005). "Poverty, Gender, and Human Trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa: Rethinking Best Practices in Migration Management". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  63. ^ a b Gozdziak, Elzbieta M. (2008). "On Challenges, Dilemmas, and Opportunities in Studying Trafficked Children". Anthropological Quarterly 81 (4).   – via Fondren Library (subscription required)
  64. ^ The World Bank (December 2009). "Human Trafficking: A Brief Overview". Social Development Notes: Conflict, Crime, and Violence (122). Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  65. ^ a b c Dottridge, Mike (2002). "Trafficking in Children in West and Central Africa". Gender and Development. 1 10: 38–42.  
  66. ^ a b Murray, Una (2003). Good Practices: Gender Mainstreaming in Actions Against Child Labor. Geneva: International Labor Organization. 
  67. ^ Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) (2010). "An Analytical Review 10 Years on from the Adoption of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol". Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  68. ^ a b I.L.O. (2002). "Every Child Counts: New Global Estimates on Child Labour". Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  69. ^ Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt, Wives for Sale: An Ethnographic Study of British Popular Divorce (N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1981 (ISBN 0-312-88629-2)), p. 163 and see pp. 163–165 and p. 133 n. 4 for a quotation from Jackson's Oxford Journal (Oxford, Oxfordshire), Aug. 12, 1797, p. 2.
  70. ^ Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt, Wives for Sale, id., p. 165.
  71. ^ Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt, Wives for Sale, id., p. 165 & n. 20.
  72. ^ Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt, Wives for Sale, op. cit., p. 163.
  73. ^ a b Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt, Wives for Sale, id., p. 164.
  74. ^ Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt, Wives for Sale, id., pp. 164–165 & nn. 19 & 21.
  75. ^ Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt, Wives for Sale, id., p. 164 & n. 20, citing Pearsall, R., The Worm in the Bud: The World of Victorian Sexuality (Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1969, pbk. ed. 1972), pp. 313 & 362, & possibly Thale, Mary, ed., Place, F., The Autobiography of Francis Place (1771–1854) (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1972), pp. 87–88.
  76. ^ a b c d e f g h i UN.GIFT (2008). "An Introduction to Human Trafficking: Vulnerability, Impact, and Action". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  77. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l I.L.O, UNICEF, and UN.GIFT (2009). "Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation - Textbook 2: Action Against Child Trafficking at Policy and Outreach Levels". Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  78. ^
  79. ^ Pinheiro, Paulo Sergio (2006). GEN/N06/491/05/PDF/N0649105.pdf?OpenElement "World Report on Violence against Children". Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  80. ^ "United Nations". 
  81. ^ "UNICEF". 
  82. ^ "Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights". 
  83. ^ "United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking". 
  84. ^ "International Labour Organization". 
  85. ^ "United States Department of State". 
  86. ^ "ECPAT International". Retrieved April 1, 2013. 
  87. ^ Harmon, William, & C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 8th ed. 2000 (ISBN 0-13-012731-0)), p. 278.
  88. ^ Dikötter, Frank, The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution, 1945–57 (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 1st U.S. ed. 2013 (ISBN 978-1-62040-347-1)), p. 194 & n. 45 (author Dikötter chair prof. humanities, University of Hong Kong & was prof. modern history of China, School of Oriental & African Studies, Univ. of London.


  1. ^ Peasants, traditionally farmers who might be slaves, serfs, or free
  2. ^ Xiaogang, one of several places in China
  3. ^ Great Leap Forward, a campaign under Mao Zedong to quickly move China from being agrarian to industrializing and collectivizing to become communist


See also

  • A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift, was ironic fiction proposing the selling of children to save Ireland from starvation;[87] the proposal was probably not intended to be literal
  • In China, The White-Haired Girl, an opera, a film, and a ballet, includes, according to Frank Dikötter, a farmer's daughter being sold by a landlord and creditor, who had seized her from the farmer who was her father, into slavery[88]

In Popular Culture

Many organizations have proposed potential solutions to child trafficking. These organizations continue to conduct research concerning this practice and policies that can be implemented to work towards its eradication. The most internationally recognized of these organizations include:

Relevant organizations

Protection begins first with victim identification; child trafficking laws must specifically and appropriately define what constitutes a "trafficking victim."[77] Legal processes must then be in place for removing children from trafficking situations, and returning them either to their families or other appropriate settings.[77] Victims should also be provided with individualized and supportive physical and psychological rehabilitation in order to establish him or her self. This recuperation can take quite a length of time but, with the individual having the correct support, they can work towards a functional life.[77] Finally, steps should be taken to avoid "double victimization" - in other words, to ensure that formerly trafficked children are treated as victims, and not as criminals.[77] An example of "double victimization" would be a child who was illegally trafficked into sexual exploitation in the United States, and then, once free from trafficking, is prosecuted for being an illegal migrant.

Law enforcement refers to the actual prosecution of traffickers; UNICEF maintains that successful prosecution of child traffickers is the surest way to send a message that child trafficking will not be tolerated.[77] Traffickers can be "caught" at any one of the three steps of trafficking: recruitment, movement, and/or exploitation; anti-trafficking laws as well as child labour laws must then be appropriately enforced and having them properly implemented. The development of grassroots surveillance systems has also been suggested by UNICEF which would enable communities to immediately report signs of child trafficking to legal authorities.[77]

Preventative actions are more focused on addressing the actual practice of child trafficking, specifically by implementing legal frameworks that are aimed to both deter and prosecute traffickers.[11][77] This involves the adoption and implementation of the international labour standards, as well as the development of safe and legal migration practices.[77]

Broad protection actions are geared towards children who could potentially be trafficked, and include raising awareness about child trafficking, particularly in vulnerable communities.[77] This type of outreach also includes policies geared towards improving the economic statuses of vulnerable families, so that reasonable alternatives are available to them, other than sending their children to work.[77] Examples of this include increasing employment opportunities for adults and I.L.O, and UNICEF involves facilitating gender equality, specifically by enhancing both boys' and girls' access to affordable, quality education.[76][77][79] Another way to raise awareness for child trafficking is by communities from all over the world dedicating a week to this situation. Observing the 2012 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, and wider world. Community groups along with police enforcements are collaborating to organize events as well as in depth information sessions and support groups for the victims. The events held by communities could include films, guest speakers, booths, and many more things that can help people understand the seriousness of this issue. The ICE (Human Trafficking) has a help line for victims as well as conducts awareness in the U.S.A communities through the ICE In Plain Sight Campaign.

  • Broad protection: "To prevent children and former victims from being (re)trafficked"
  • Prevention: "Of the crime of child trafficking and the exploitation that is its end result"
  • Law enforcement: "In particular within a labour context and relating to labour laws and regulations"
  • Protection: "all steps towards the redress of their grievance, rehabilitation and helping to establish her/him."[78]

Solutions to child trafficking, or "anti-trafficking actions", can be roughly classified into four categories:[77]

Proposed solutions

On a national level, economic development is severely hindered by the lack of education of trafficked children; this results in a major loss of potentially productive future workers.[2][76] Children who are able to successfully return to their families often pose a significant financial burden, due to their lack of education, and the illnesses and injuries they may have incurred during trafficking work.[2] There are major costs associated with the rehabilitation of these trafficked children, so that they are able to successfully participate in their communities.[2] Furthermore, the persistence of child trafficking indicates the presence of sustained criminal activity and criminal networks, which, in most cases, are also associated with drugs and violence.[76] As a result, UN.GIFT has cited child trafficking as a significant indicator of national and global security threats.[76]


Child trafficking has also been shown to have a major effect on communities. If multiple children in a community are trafficked, it can result in the entire community being corrupted, and thus devastated, by trafficking.[2] Social development efforts are hindered, as trafficked children's educations are cut short.[2] As a result of this lack of education, children who escape trafficking may be less able to secure employment later in life.[2] In addition, trafficked girls face special obstacles, in that their prospects for marriage might be diminished if the community becomes aware that they have been trafficked, particularly into sexual exploitation.[2]


Effects on families are also severe. Some families believe that sending or allowing their children to relocate in order to find work will bring in additional income, while in reality many families will never see their trafficked children again.[2] In addition, UN.GIFT has found that certain forms of trafficking, particularly sexual exploitation in girls, bring "shame" to families.[76] Thus, in certain cases, children who are able to escape trafficking may return to their families only to find that they are rejected and ostracized.[76]

According to UN.GIFT, child trafficking has the most significant impact on trafficked children and their families.[2][76] First, trafficking can result in the death or permanent injury of the trafficked child.[2] This can stem from a dangerous "movement" stage of trafficking or from specific aspects of the "exploitation" stage, such as hazardous working conditions. Moreover, trafficked children are often denied access to healthcare, effectively increasing their chances of serious injury and death.[2] Trafficked children are also often subject to domestic violence; they may be beaten or starved in order to ensure obedience.[2] In addition, these children frequently encounter substance abuse; they may be given drugs as "payment" or to ensure that they become addicted and thus dependent on their trafficker(s).[2] As opposed to many other forms of crime, the trauma experienced by children who are trafficked is often prolonged and repeated, leading to severe psychological impacts.[76] UN.GIFT reports that trafficked children often suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions.[76]

Children and families


According to anthropologist Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, in the late 17th and 18th centuries, in Britain, parents in poverty "sold their children (actually, their children's services, but to all intents and purposes their persons as well)".[69] Sale motivations were more economic than for wife sales[70] and prices, drawing from limited data, "appear to have been fairly high."[71] Many of the boys sold were climbing boys for chimney sweeps until they were no longer small enough.[72] Prostitution was another reason for selling a child, usually a girl.[73] One sale was of a niece; another was the sale by a man of the daughter of a woman domestic partner who also ran his business.[73] Some children were stolen and then sold.[74] Purchasing was apparently also done through "baby-farming operations."[75]


As the numbers above indicate, child trafficking occurs the most frequently in Latin America and the Caribbean. Child trafficking is also the most prevalent in developing countries, though it does occur in developed and industrialized economies as well.[2][60] Notably, the United States Department of State publishes an annual "Trafficking in Persons" report which provides ample data regarding the prevalence of human and child trafficking in the majority of countries.[60]

  • Asia/Pacific: 250,000 children
  • Latin America & the Caribbean: 550,000 children
  • Africa: 200,000 children
  • Transition economies: 200,000 children
  • Developed/industrialized economies: n/a

[68] Regionally, the


[68] The most reliable figure regarding the prevalence of this practice is provided by the [67][1] Trafficking of children has been documented in every region of the world.


It is difficult to obtain reliable estimates concerning the number of children trafficked each year, primarily due to the covert and criminal nature of this practice.[2][63] It often takes years to gather and compile estimates regarding child trafficking and, as a result, data can seem both inadequate and outdated.[2] This process of gathering data is only complicated by the fact that very few countries publish national estimates of child trafficking.[2] As a result, the available statistics are widely thought to underestimate the actual scope of the problem.[2]


Various international organizations, including the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking have linked child trafficking to poverty: Living in poverty has been found to increase children's vulnerability to trafficking.[2][62][63] However, poverty is only one of many social "risk factors" that can lead to trafficking. As UNICEF and the World Bank note, "Often children experience several risk factors at the same time, and one of them may act as a trigger that sets the trafficking event in motion. This is sometimes called 'poverty plus,' a situation in which poverty does not by itself lead to a person being trafficked, but where a 'plus' factor such as illness combines with poverty to increase vulnerability."[2][64] UNICEF, UN.GIFT and several scholars, including Una Murray and Mike Dottridge, also contend that an accurate understanding of child trafficking must incorporate an analysis of gender inequality.[2][65][66] Specifically, in many countries, girls are at a higher risk of being trafficked, particularly into sexual exploitation.[2][65] In addition, these international agencies and scholars contend that giving women and men an equal voice in anti-trafficking policy is critical to reducing the incidence of child trafficking.[65][66]

Social mechanisms

Child trafficking is often conceptualized using the economic model of supply and demand.[11][58] Specifically, those who are trafficked constitute the "supply," while the traffickers, and all those who profit from the exploitation, provide the "demand."[2] Two types of demand are defined: consumer demand and derived demand. Consumer demand is generated by people who actively or passively buy the products or services of trafficked labor.[2] An example of this would be a tourist purchasing a T-shirt that has been made by a trafficked child. Derived demand, on the other hand, is generated by people who directly profit from the practice of trafficking, such as pimps or corrupt factory owners.[2] Scholar Kevin Bales has extensively studied the application of this economic framework to instances of human trafficking; he contends that it is central to an accurate understanding of how trafficking is initiated and sustained.[59] Bales, along with scholars Elizabeth M. Wheaton, Edward J. Schauer, and Thomas V. Galli, have asserted that national governments should more actively implement policies that reduce both types of demand, thus working towards the elimination of trafficking.[60][61]

Supply and demand framework

In general, child trafficking takes place in three stages: recruitment, movement, and exploitation.[2][11] Recruitment occurs when a child is approached by a recruiter, or in some cases, directly approaches a recruiter themselves.[2] Recruitment is initiated in many different ways: adolescents may be under pressure to contribute to their families, children may be kidnapped or abducted into trafficking, or families may be trafficked together.[2] Then, movement will occur - locally, regionally, and/or internationally - through a variety of transportation types, including by car, train, boat, or foot.[2] Ultimately, the final goal of child trafficking is exploitation, whereby traffickers use the services of children to garner illegal profit.[2] Exploitation can take place in a variety of forms, including forced labor, sexual exploitation, and child begging, among other practices.


In contemporary Nepal, parents of poor families sell their children to orphanages (or sometimes simply hand them over without any payment). The orphanage then misrepresent them as "orphans", ensuring an income for the orphanages.[56][57]

In ancient Rome, according to Keith Bradley, Augustine wrote that "there were indigent parents selling their children because they needed the cash."[55]

Sales motivated by cash

The practice is also known as "re-homing"[53] or "adoption from disruption".[54]

In China, in response to adult starvation, some children were exchanged, killed, and eaten. According to Robyn Meredith, "peasants [in the People's Republic of China (possibly in ca. 1958)] turned into skeletons. The nation's farmers, including the residents of Xiaogang, .... [among some] starving families[,] resorted to a practice called yi zi er shi [meaning "exchanging children to eat"]:... they traded a child for a neighbor's child, then killed and ate the skinny youngster, with the sickening knowledge that their neighbors were devouring their own."[52][1][2][3]

Child exchange

In instances where begging is religiously sanctioned it has been suggested by USAid that religious leaders should outwardly condemn this practice. For talibes religious leaders have been asked to take a stance against begging using passages sited in the Quran, such as "Except paradise, you should not beg anything for the sake of Allah" (8:23), which would help strip the practice of its religious foundation.[50] In addition, during the time of president Clinton - a former president of the United States-, he took the responsibility of providing protection against child abuse through Internet Service providers (ISP) that can help the law enforcement tracking any suspicious activities including child pornography (McCabe, 2008, p. 247).[51]

In China, where the kidnapping and forced begging of children has been routinely documented, a multi-media movement has begun.[38] Here, blogs are utilized to publicize over 3,000 photos of children whose families believe have been abducted for the purpose of begging, with hundreds of thousands of followers who remain on the look out for these children in major urban centers. This campaign has enabled at least six children to be recovered and reunited with their families.[38]

Other methods

Many NGOs have initiated movements focusing on informing the public on the dangers of donations. As recently reported by UNICEF "certain behaviors, such as giving money to child beggars can also indirectly motivate traffickers and controller to demand children."[36] The Mirror Foundation's Stop Child Begging Project of Thailand is one such organization that emphasizes eliminating the demand. Their initiatives are focused on educating passersby on the forced begging of trafficked Cambodians within their country to decrease y the likelihood of donations.[49]

NGO initiatives

In China, the Ministry of Public Security has established a department that solely focuses on child trafficking. Recently the department has instituted a hotline where the public dials 110 to report suspected incidences of forced begging, which law enforcement officials are expected to investigate further. The police are trained to take the children into custody if a blood relationship with their guardian cannot be established, and educate parents on the illegality and dangers of begging if they are those responsible for the child's action. This policy instituted in April 2009 has since led to the recovery of 9,300 children.[38]

In Bangladesh, where there are an estimated 700,000 beggars, a law passed in 2009 banning the practice, though officials report some trouble with enforcement.[41]

In Zimbabwe policy has adapted to ensure the safety of all persons under the age of sixteen with the Children's Protection and Adoption Act, however, the government admits that a lack of resources and capital play a critical role in inadequate enforcement.[40]

In Senegal, where the abuses against [35]

Government response

Other supported methods, such as those outlined by the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review, include relying on three Ps: protection, prosecution, and prevention.[33] Protection starts with enforcing strict measures on the matters of both trafficking and begging. For many nations the first step is the criminalization of begging and trafficking.[45] Prosecution should be instituted in the form of greater legal ramifications for traffickers, with punishment focused on the exploiter rather than the exploited.[48] This becomes difficult with respect to victims of familial trafficking, considering this would require changes in care placement and strict monitoring of each displaced child's welfare.[32] Many organizations affirm that prevention begins with discouraging donations and improving services so that children, and families as a whole, have greater capabilities.[47] Though well-intentioned, by giving child beggars money, individuals only make this practice more profitable, and soon these funds find their way into the hands of the child's abuser.[47]

A victim-centered human rights approach to combating trafficking has been internationally renowned as the best possible strategy when addressing this issue, with recourse focusing on punishing the exploiter and rehabilitating the child.[33] Some countries who emphasize this method include the United States, with the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 affirming "victims of severe forms of trafficking should not be inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked."[48]

International action


Studies have shown that children forced into begging primarily receive little to no education, with upwards of sixteen hours a day dedicated to time on the streets.[33] With education being a leading method in escaping poverty child beggars have been shown to engage in a cyclical process of continuing this practice cross-generationally.[32] Interviews conducted by UNICEF show that children who beg have little hope for the future and do not believe their circumstances will improve.[40] Children who work on the streets typically have little or no knowledge of their rights, leaving them especially susceptible to exploitation both as juveniles and later as adults.[40] Children who beg have also been found by UNICEF to have much higher instances of HIV-infection due to lack of awareness and supervision on the streets.[40]

Long-term implications

The conditions in which begging takes place commonly expose children to further physical and verbal abuse, including sexual victimization and police brutality.[32] Research completed by Human Rights Watch revealed that when begging hours are completed for the day children often do not have proper shelter, adequate food, or access to healthcare where they reside.[47] Furthermore, many of the gangs which run networks of forced begging have heavy drug involvement, thus the children under their control are often turned into drug addicts in order for them to become further reliant on their exploiters.[32]

UNICEF has found that children who are forced to beg by third parties are often removed from their families, surrender the majority of their income to their exploiter, endure unsafe work and living conditions, and are at times maimed to increase profits.[32][36] The process of maiming, popularized by the film Slumdog Millionaire, is common given that according to the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review children with apparent special needs often make upwards of three times as much as other children who beg.[33] In addition to inflictions such as blindness and loss of limbs, other physical abuses for the purposes of heightening profits include pouring chili pepper on a child's tongue to give the appearance of impeded speech, the use of opium to elicit cries, and administering forced injections of drugs that will increase a child's energy and alertness.[32] Testimonies against trafficking ring gang leaders have discussed the detainment of individuals in small cells devoid of food, water, and light to make victims weak and feeble, and thus more likely to elicit donations.[41]

General abuses

Another cultural practice is the resolution of familial debts through the kidnapping and exploitation of one of their children.[46]

There are several cultural factors that support begging. In Europe begging is found in a number of minority cultures, especially popular within Roma and nomadic communities.[33] In Turkey familial networks of beggars have been documented across three generations, making it deeply ingrained within their survival schemas.[45] It is important to note that while these may be culturally rooted practices, juvenile begging by way of familial pressure still falls under the realm of forced begging.[33] The transport of children, even one's own, for the purposes of exploitation through begging is a form of trafficking outlined by the United Nations.[33]

Cultural factors

According to the World Bank forced begging is most commonly found in the Middle East and countries of West Africa, where laws prohibiting begging are scarce and heavy regulation of trafficking absent.[35] In Zimbabwe, where child begging is especially prominent, the United Nations has indicated many contradictions between the Labour Act of Zimbabwe and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.[40] Many nations, such as Indonesia, have laws against begging on the books, but the repercussions for such entail temporary detainment and eventual release back onto the streets, which does little to combat the issue.[44]

Political factors

Forced begging is a profitable practice in which exploiters are motivated by economic incentives. The business structures of major rings of children trafficked for the purpose of begging have been examined as comparable to a medium-size business enterprise.[33] In the most severe cases networks of children forced to beg may generate $30–40,000 USD for the profiteer.[42] Though family networks are not nearly as extensive, a study conducted in Albania showed that a family with multiple children begging can earn up to fifteen euros a day, an amount greater than the average national teacher salary.[33] Anti-Slavery International asserts that because this income is relatively high many families believe it is the best option available given the lack of existing [40]

Economic factors


Gang networks involving forced begging have been found to occur in populations of 500 or greater.[41]

While concrete figures are difficult to determine, the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently reported that there are at least 600,000 children involved in forced begging.[37] The problem may be much more extensive, however, with China's Ministry of Civil Affairs reporting that as many as 1.5 million children are forced into begging.[38] Additionally, a recent study done in Senegal by [40]

Most research, such as studies done by UNICEF, suggests that boys are much more likely than girls to be trafficked for the purposes of begging; experts presume this is because there is a greater female presence in trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.[36] In Albania, where forced begging is a common practice, seventy percent of victims are male.[33]

By definition child begging occurs in persons younger than eighteen, though forced begging has been found by UNICEF to exist among children as young as the age of two.[32] Incidences of this practice have been recorded by the [35]


Forced child begging is a type of begging in which boys and girls under the age of eighteen are forced to beg through psychological and physical coercion.[32] Begging is defined by the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review as "the activity of asking for money as charity on the street."[33] There is evidence to suggest that forced begging is one industry that children are trafficked into, with a recent United Nations, among others, beginning to emphasize its pertinence.[33] The European Union's Brussels Declaration on Preventing and Combating Trafficking includes child begging as one form of trafficking, stating "trafficking in human beings is an abhorrent and worrying phenomenon involving coercive sexual exploitation, labor exploitation in conditions akin to slavery, exploitation in begging and juvenile delinquency as well as domestic servitude."[34] This issue is especially difficult to regulate given that forced begging is often imposed by family members, with parental power leveraged over a child to ensure that begging is carried out.[33]

Child begging

Children are also used in drug trades in all regions of the world.[2] Specifically, children are often trafficked into exploitation as either drug couriers or dealers, and then 'paid' in drugs, such that they become addicted and further entrapped.[2] Due to the illicit nature of drug trafficking, children who are apprehended are often treated as criminals, when in reality they are often the ones in need of legal assistance.[2] While comprehensive worldwide statistics regarding the prevalence of this practice are unknown, several useful regional studies have been conducted. For example, the I.L.O has recently investigated the use of Afghan children in the heroin trade and child involvement in the drug trades of Brazil.[29][30] Scholar Luke Dowdney specifically studied children in the drug trade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; he found that children involved in the drug trades are at significantly higher risk of engaging in violence, particularly murder.[31]

Children in drug trades

Recent research conducted by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers has also noted that girl soldiers must be uniquely recognized, in that they are especially vulnerable to acts of sexual violence.[27] The incidence of child soldiers has become especially relevant in popular culture following the Kony 2012 movement, which aims to arrest Joseph Kony, a Ugandan war criminal who is responsible for the trafficking of thousands of child soldiers and sex slaves.[28]

  • Direct roles in hostilities (combat roles)
  • Supporting roles (such as messengers or spies)
  • For political advantage (such as for propaganda purposes)

[25] Children conscripted into the armed forces can then be used in three distinct ways:[26][27]

Children in armed forces

Though measuring the extent of this practice is difficult due to its criminal and covert nature, the I.L.O, and scholars Erin Kunze and D.M. Hughes, also contend that the increased use and availability of the Internet has served as a major resource for traffickers, ultimately increasing the incidence of child sex trafficking.[17][19][20] In fact, in 2009, Illinois Sheriff Thomas J. Dart sued the owners of Craigslist, a popular online classifieds website, for its "allowance" and "facilitation" of prostitution, particularly in children.[21][22] In response to public and legal pressure, Craigslist has since blocked all access to its "Adult Services" section.[23]

  • "The use of girls and boys in sexual activities remunerated in cash or in kind (commonly known as child prostitution) in the streets or indoors, in such places as brothels, discotheques, massage parlours, bars, hotels, restaurants, etc."
  • "The trafficking of girls and boys and adolescents for the sex trade"
  • "Child sex tourism"
  • "The production, promotion and distribution of pornography involving children"
  • "The use of children in sex shows (public or private)"


Sexual exploitation

[14] A surprised example has occurred in the United States as McCabe (2008) indicates that in the 1990s, huge companies such as Gap and Nike were using industries “sweatshops” that use trafficked children to make their desired products (p. 81).[13] Another major global trend concerns the number of child laborers in the 15-17 age group: in the past five years, a 20% increase in the number of these child workers has been reported.[13] The ILO contends that, globally, child labour is slowly declining, except in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of child workers has remained relatively constant: 1 in 4 children aged 5–17 work in this region.[13] In terms of global trends, the ILO estimates that in 2004–2008, there was a 3% reduction in the incidence of child labor; this stands in contrast to a previous ILO report which found that in 2000–2004, there was a 10% reduction in child labor.[2] Overall, child labor can take many forms, including domestic servitude, work in agriculture, service, and manufacturing industries. Also, according to several researchers, most children are forced into cheap and controllable labor, and work in homes, farms, factories, restaurants, and much more (Beyrer 16; Gozdziak and MacDonnell 171; Vinkovic 88). Trafficked children may be sexually exploited, used in the armed forces and drug trades, and in child begging.[13] The ILO also estimates that 115 million children are engaged in hazardous work, such as the sex or drug trade.[13] [5] Child labour refers specifically to children under a stipulated minimum age, usually 14 at the lowest, being required to work.[2] The objective of child trafficking is often forced child labour.

Forced labour

The intended or actual after-sale use of the child known is not always known.

Types of child trafficking

National laws pertaining to child trafficking continue to develop worldwide, based on the international principles that have been established. Anti-trafficking legislation has been lauded as critical by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, because it ensures that traffickers and trafficking victims are treated accordingly: for example, "if migration laws are used to pursue traffickers, it is often the case that the victims too are prosecuted as illegal migrants, whereas if there is a specific category of 'trafficker' and 'trafficked person,' then it is more likely that the victim will be treated as such."[2] The existence of national laws regarding child trafficking also enables trafficking victims and/or their families to take appropriate civil action.[2]

National law

  • Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (Treaty series No. 197), 2005
  • Communication to the European Parliament and the Council COM(2005) 514 Final
  • Multilateral cooperation agreement to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in West and Central Africa, 2006
  • Mekong subregional cooperation agreement to fight human trafficking (COMMIT), 2004

A variety of regional instruments have also been developed to guide countries in decisions regarding child trafficking. Below are some of the major instruments, though many others exist:[2]

Regional instruments

Trafficking-specific instruments

The trafficking of children often involves both labour and migration. As such, these international frameworks clarify instances in which these practices are illegal.

Labour and migration treaties

These legal instruments were developed by the United Nations in an effort to protect international human rights and, more specifically, children's rights.

International human rights instruments

Many international, regional, and national instruments deal with the trafficking of children. These instruments are used to define what legally constitutes trafficking of children, such that appropriate legal action can be taken against those who engage in and promote this practice. These legal instruments are called by a variety of terms, including conventions, protocols, memorandums, joint actions, recommendations, and declarations. The most significant instruments are listed below:[2]

Related legal instruments

[2] The distinction outlined in this definition is important, because some countries have chosen to set the "age of majority" lower than 18, thus influencing exactly what legally constitutes child trafficking.[3] which states, "a child means every human being below the age of 18 years, unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier."U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child The definition of "child" used here is that listed in the 1989 [2]

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