Child Slavery Abounds Globally

Posted on April 16, 2011


Source: UNICEF

Hundreds of millions of children across the globe are victims of exploitation, abuse and violence each year. They are abducted and recruited into the army, trafficked into prostitution rings or forced into debt bondage or other forms of slavery.

Forced and bonded labour. According to the International Labour Organization, an estimated 246 million children are engaged in exploi-tative child labour, with almost three quarters of them working in hazardous environments, such as mines or factories, or with dangerous substances like chemicals and agricultural pesticides.

Human trafficking. The use of children as a commodity for labour or sex is a lucrative international trade. An estimated 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked each year, and some are arrested and detained as illegal aliens. Girls as young as 13, mainly from Asia and Eastern Europe, are trafficked as “mail-order brides”. Up to 10,000 women and girls from poor neighbouring countries have been lured into commercial sex establishments. Like other forms of criminal activity, trafficking is an underground activity and difficult to address.

Sexual exploitation. About 1 million children, mostly girls but also a significant number of boys, are exploited every year in the multi-billion-dollar sex industry. Such commercial abuse of children is fuelled by local demand, with sexual tourism only a small part of the problem. Since sexual activity is usually regarded as a private matter, Governments and communities alike are often reticent to intervene in cases of sexual exploitation.

Child soldiers. At any given time, over 300,000 child soldiers, as young as 8, are exploited in armed conflicts in more than 30 countries around the world. It is estimated that more than 2 million children have died over the last decade as a direct result of armed conflict, and at least 6 million have been seriously injured or permanently disabled. In addition, between 8,000 and 10,000 children are being killed or maimed by landmines each year.

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