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 privacy policy

‘Invisible’ children more vulnerable to trafficking and abuse

Millions of children now have birth certificates - and greater protection - due to Plan's birth registration campaign.
Millions of children now have birth certificates - and greater protection - due to Plan's birth registration campaign.
May 25, 2011

Millions of children in developing countries are at greater risk of being trafficked, abducted or abused because they do not exist on government records. As the world marks International Missing Children’s Day, it is estimated that globally 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.

Plan, as part of its Universal Birth Registration campaign, is calling for every child in the world to be registered as an effective prevention tool to tackle child trafficking and abuse.

No legal existence

Every year, 51 million children or one in every three births across the world go unregistered. Majority of unrecorded births are from countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The unregistered children have no legal existence; and therefore little or no recourse to basic rights such as education and healthcare.

Plan’s experience of dealing with missing children and human trafficking in countries like Pakistan and Nepal shows that a proper form of identity can act as a safeguard.

Vulnerable to human rights violations

Nadya Kassam, Plan’s Head of Global Advocacy said: “Unregistered children remain ‘invisible’ to the authorities and as a result are more vulnerable to human rights violations. Traffickers can easily smuggle children without records across borders by forging their age and identity. We cannot even accurately estimate the scale of this crime as thousands of missing children do not even exist in government estimates.”

Since 2005, Plan’s birth registration campaign has facilitated registration of over 40 million people across 32 countries, most of them children. The campaign has helped to improve laws in 10 countries enabling access to registration for an additional estimated 153 million people.

Plan is lobbying governments in developing countries, especially those with poor track record in birth registration, to actively include birth registration as part of their commitment to child rights.

Millions of children missing

“In India alone, more than 8 million children join the unregistered population every year and thousands go missing. This must change. Registration makes governments account for every child,” added Nadya.

Plan through its global campaign has also highlighted that birth registration is key to accessing medical care, enrolling at school, inheriting property, preventing child exploitation and finding employment. It is a proof of identity and allows people to claim their basic rights.

Learn more about Plan’s Universal Birth Registration campaign.

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