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What is child trafficking

Children have the right to to grow up in a protective environment and be free from all forms of abuse and exploitation. 

PHOTO: Alf Berg
Children have the right to to grow up in a protective environment and be free from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

PHOTO: Alf Berg

Trafficking refers to the illegal transport of human beings, in particular women and children, for the purpose of selling them or exploiting their labor.

A tragic pattern
The story begins in a similar way for many trafficked children:
Agents working for organized child trafficking groups gain access to impoverished communities with tempting offers of schooling or income opportunities elsewhere.

The children, tempted by offers of school and the prospect of making enough money to support their families, leave their homes—with or without parental consent. Neither child nor adult is usually aware of the full implications of their actions.

The reality in store for most children is appalling.

misc Girls are placed with "guardians" in receiving countries to provide domestic or market labor. They are often ruthlessly exploited and, in many cases, abused physically, emotionally and sexually. If they displease their "employers", including becoming pregnant as a result of rape, they are usually turned out onto the street. The need to survive can then draw these girls into commercial sex work. They may or may not make their way to diplomatic missions or other agencies that can provide help and repatriate them.

Boys smuggled usually end up in forced agricultural work, such as picking coffee on plantations. They work excessively long hours, sometimes with dangerous equipment, and often endure beatings and other maltreatment by overseers. Many work at night, and most work seven days a week for six months, a year, or longer. Few receive any wages.

The effects
The effects of trafficking and sexual exploitation on children and youth include unwanted pregnancies, severe physical and psychological trauma including death, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and permanent psychological scars.

Unfortunately, many children who are "rescued" continue to suffer. They can be treated as criminals in breach of laws against prostitution and illegal immigration and emigration, and can be imprisoned both by the country they have been transported to and by their country of origin. In addition, once back home, many children face discrimination and stigmatization from their own communities.

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