Writes Zeus, Content Writer, Headline Diplomat eMagazine, LUDCI.eu
In the 21st century, child trafficking continues to be a pandemic largely being neglected, aside from some efforts coming from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Unfortunately, this form of slavery isn’t just a thing of the past. It’s still present in our society at such a widespread level that you might even be contributing to it unknowingly. If you think large-scale slavery ended in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation, then you have wrongly thought. In reality, more people are in slavery today than at any other time in history.
According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index report, there were 40.3 million people in modern slavery in 2016. Of these, 71% are women and girls. This unprecedented number is more than twice the number of Africans who were shipped to North and South America throughout the entire 360-year history of the New World Slave Trade. According to a 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, in the year 2014, 79% of all detected trafficking victims are women and children. In 1850, the average cost of a slave in the United States was the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s currency. A slave today costs an average of $90. Even more tragically, child trafficking continues to grow having spread to every corner of the world. Many of these children are initially forced into hard labor in sweatshops, fields, and domestic servitudes. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that over 1.2 million trafficked children are into forced labor. Often, trafficked children are used as sexual objects that are traded, used, and discarded — all for the trafficker’s profit. It is important to note that boys are also victims of child sex trafficking. Although there are far few reports of abuse of boys, this could be that they were even more reluctant to come forward and talk to the authorities than the girls.
The practice of child trafficking is not limited to third-world countries in Asia and Africa. In July of 2013, U.S. law enforcement officials rescued 105 child victims of sex trafficking and exploitation in cities across the country. It was the largest child sex-trafficking crackdown in America’s history. Many of the victims were foreigners. The rest were U.S. citizens – trafficked and enslaved within their borders. According to data from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, of the 23,500 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2019, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking. The data further shows that child sex trafficking has been reported in all 50 U.S. states, with the average age of victims being 15 years.
In August 2014, a report written by Prof. Alexis Jay revealed the massive sexual exploitation of teens in Rotherham, England. These children “were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated”. The events, in this town of over 250,000 people, represent abuses routinely carried out throughout England. “It is hard to describe that appalling nature of the abuse the child victims suffered,” the report states. This tragedy is not confined to the past but continues to spread like wildfire to this day. It is, therefore, very obvious that this child trafficking pandemic needs urgent attention.
The tragedy of child trafficking is only possible because we all have failed at every level of society – the family, law enforcement, social services, local, national, and international governments. Aside from the efforts of NGOs and some Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), it seems many governments and law enforcement agencies are more concerned with bureaucratic box-ticking, meeting targets, and making themselves look good than they are about tackling the problem. While it is only right to scrutinize the operations of some of these NGOs, as there have been allegations of corruption, it is obvious that the world has, to a great extent, shut its eyes to those who are at the forefront of the fight against this modern slavery. NGOs are the last hope of hundreds of millions of vulnerable and trafficked children globally, so their importance cannot be overemphasized.
Yet, these NGOs are either poorly funded or misuse their funds, while the world governments show a nonchalant attitude towards the fight against child trafficking. Access to funds is one of the major problems in the fight against child trafficking since they are largely at the mercy of their sponsors and donors. Foreign donors often cannot fund NGOs directly. Rather, the funding often is channeled through governmental organizations, which then disburse them to domestic NGOs. This wastes a lot of time and makes operations very difficult, and making the funds susceptible to embezzlement in some countries. Furthermore, some of the funds are only sufficient enough to run the administrative work of these NGOs.
Who are at the forefront of the fight against child trafficking?
There are over 30 NGOs in this fight against child trafficking. While some focus fully on child trafficking, others focus on other global problems of which child trafficking is one of them.
NGOs that fight child trafficking
The NGOs that are fully focused on child trafficking include the following:
- International Centre For Missing And Exploited Children (ICMEC)
- End Child Prostitution And Trafficking International (ECPAT)
- Free A Girl
- Destiny Rescue
- The Save The Children Fund
- Covenant House
- National Centre For Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
International Centre For Missing And Exploited Children (ICMEC)
The International Centre For Missing And Exploited Children has been fighting against child abduction and trafficking, sexual abuse, and exploitation for more than two decades through their affiliated organizations, such as The Koons Family Institute On International Law &Policy, the Financial Coalition Against Child Sexual Exploitation, the Global Missing Children’s Network, and the Global Initiative for Child Health & Well-Being. They have been able to, among many other achievements, help 19 countries develop Rapid Emergency Child Alert Systems and provide resources and training to educators and school personnel in more than 1,135 schools across 109 countries to combat child abuse and exploitation. Furthermore, they have continued to advocate for children around the world, training partners on the frontline and building partnerships aimed at ending child trafficking and abuse. ICMEC is supported by donations from different sources to help build a world where children are safe and secure. Their 2017 annual report shows that they received a total unrestricted income and revenue of $2,244,653 (Grants and Contributions: $822,120, Investment Income: $14,980, Contributed Services: $38,730, Fundraising: $770,513, Released Donor Restrictions: $598,310), and made expenses of $2,784,093 (Program Services: $2,033,407, Management: $355,300, Fundraising: $395,386) in the same year.
End Child Prostitution And Trafficking International (ECPAT)
ECPAT International is a global network of civil society organizations that focuses on halting the trafficking of children for sexual purposes in the travel and tourism industry. The NGO was founded in 1990 and has saved many children, with the perpetrators held accountable. A financial audit report by the organization, for the year ended 30 June 2019, show an annual income of US$ 3,212,850 (compared to US$ 3,700,318 in the previous year) and an annual expenditure of US$ 3,005,260 (compared to US$ 3,690,942 in the previous year). In other words, while this scourge rages on, there was a reduction in funding the foremost NGOs fighting child trafficking. The year-end also shows an unfortunate decrease in unrestricted reserves from US$ 584,133 to US$ 477,878. Donations and other income came to a total of $3,212,850 in the year under review. A sum of $103,565 was spent on sexual exploitation of children online, $396,349 on sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, $198,520 on legal programs, and $26,603 on child and youth participation, bringing the total sum of thematic areas to $725,027.
Free A Girl
Free A Girl was founded in 2008 to fight trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and has so far rescued more than 4,500 minor girls worldwide. The 2019 Annual Report shows a total income of €2,953,597 (Income from Individuals: €968,440, Companies: €468,002, Lottery Organizations: €319,771, Government Grants: €393,818, Other Non-profit Organization: €743,276, Other Income: €60,290) and expenditure of €2,726,711 (Spent on Objectives: €2,101,589, Acquisition of Interest: €454,938, Cost of Management and Administration: €170,184), while the total budget for the year was €2,319,822. The balance of income and expenditure was €226,886, which shows that at the end of the year, the income was almost equal to the expenditure. The organization’s work includes the rescue, rehabilitation, and re-integration of the trafficked children, as well as tackling impunity, prevention, lobby, and advocacy.
Destiny Rescue is an internationally-recognized Christian non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing trafficked children trapped in exploitation and sex trade. The organization is in seven countries around the world and has rescued over 5000 lives from the evils of sexual exploitation. Over the last three years, 81% of every dollar it received was used for programs that benefit children, while 9.3% went to management and 9.4% into fundraising. Their 2018 audit report reveals that they got $3,295,124 in total revenue and support (without donor restrictions), while their total expenses were $3,121,589. For the year, Destiny Rescue received a total donation of $2,539,684, while total income from special events, jewelry sales, interest income, gain on deposit asset, and net interest released from restrictions was $754,150. Affiliates of Destiny Rescue got a total sum of $1,475,056 as grants for the year 2018, a further $40,380 went to sponsorship, $806,909 to public awareness, and $260,671 to management.
The Save The Children Fund
The Save The Children Fund, commonly known as Save The Children, was established in the United Kingdom in 1919. Over the years, Save The Children has been at the forefront of the fight against child trafficking seeking to improve the lives of children through better education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, as well as providing emergency aid in natural disasters, wars, and other conflicts. In 2018, its combined revenue amounted to $2.2Billion. A detailed analysis of its income and expenditure could be found in its 2018 Annual Review Report. From the report, 2% of the income came in from gifts in kind, 28% from individuals, 12% from corporations and foundations, 55% from government institutions, and 3% from other sources. 56% of this income was spent on developmental programs, and 44% on humanitarian activities. In programs expenditure by area, 16% of the income was spent on child protection, 13% on child poverty/livelihood, 24% on child education, 2% on child rights, and 45% on child health and nutrition. In 2019, The Save The Children Fund reached 40.8 million children across 117 countries around the world.
Covenant House has, for more than four decades, helped transform and save the lives of more than one million homeless, runaway, and trafficked children, reaching about 74,000 children every year In its financial report of June 2019, its total contribution and revenue stood at $177,744,698(without donor restrictions) while expenses stood at $160,758,951. Covenant House has been offering a continuum of care, advocacy, and strategies. For the year in review, Covenant House received a total sum of $102,069,384 in contributions from individuals, foundations, and companies. Income from government grants and contracts was $42,600,051, $4,567,483 from contributed goods and services, and $6,489,567 from investment returns. From the funds received, $151,171,814 was spent on program services, $22,974,069 on fundraising, and $20,389,741 on management.
National Centre For Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
Efforts by the National Centre For Missing & Exploited Children include helping to find missing children, preventing infant abduction, reducing child sexual exploitation, and preventing child victimization. A 2018 financial report of the organization shows total revenue and support of $54,498,778 (Without donor restrictions. Government Contracts and Grants: $33,821,792, Contributions: $9,778,450, Special Events: 2,069,322, Gains on Assets: $7,664,201) and operating expenses of $45,446,193 (Community Outreach: $4,587,098, Missing Child Management: $14,622,06, Exploited Children Management: $7,703,228, Training: $1,154,377, Fundraising: $3,390,874). About 8.6% of the expenses were spent on fundraising and management.
NGOs that fight child trafficking alongside other global problems
These are NGOs that fight general injustice around the world of which child trafficking is a major part. Here are some of them:
- Amnesty International
- International Labor Organization
- World Hope International
- Salvation Army International
- Not For Sale, Youth Underground
- 3Strands Global
- Anti-Slavery International
- Catholic Relief Services
- Free The Girls
- Free The Slaves
- International Justice Mission
- Orphaned Starfish Foundation
The trafficking of children is a dark, evil, and ugly scourge that has reached a pandemic level, and if allowed to fester, it would affect all of us. It needs urgent and concerted action to curb the damage it’s doing to the world. All hands must be on deck – individuals, NGOs, IGOs, governments, and law enforcement officers.
Since the NGOs are at the center of the fight, everyone should support them to win the war: governments and IGOs should develop enabling policies and laws that make it difficult for child traffickers to continue in their trade; international security agencies should collaborate to enforce the laws, and individuals and corporations should help with the necessary donations.
The NGOs also need to get their acts together to improve their credibility, as there have been a few reports of suspicions, dubious dealings, and corruption in some of these organizations. Donors want to be sure of their credibility and assured that money donated would go into real programs and needs. There is also the need for accountability, to further cement the credibility of these organizations. It is only right to employ people with a great sense of responsibility in managing funds, bringing workable ideas and skills that benefit all.
Won’t you rather support the fight against child trafficking by supporting these NGOs in any way you can? Remember, one rescued child at a time means a million children rescued per year. Donate to the fight against child trafficking today!
Featured photo by skitterphoto