AlertNet: Governments failing to protect children from sex trafficking

Child protection network ECPAT International recently released a report stating that countries around the globe are falling far short of efforts necessary to stop child sex trafficking. ECPAT evaluated and rated 42 countries for their efforts in fighting child sex slavery, concluding that most countries are “failing to sufficiently criminalize the trafficking of children for sex.” Part of the problem lies in the criminalization of the young victims, rather than the traffickers themselves. The report notes that in many countries, “the legal system fails to protect child victims, instead labeling them as delinquents or even criminals.”

A 2009 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report estimated that almost 80% of all trafficking victims worldwide are trafficked for sexual exploitation and more than one in five trafficking victims are children. This excludes areas of Africa and the Mekong region, where child victims are the majority. AlertNet notes that the actual number may be significantly higher than ECPAT estimates: “ECPAT is sticking to a 10-year-old figure from the International Labour Organization (ILO) that estimated at least 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. Some aid workers told AlertNet they expect the number to be around 2 million based on field experience.”

The countries that ECPAT reported to have shown “notable efforts” in the fight again child sex trafficking include Ireland, Poland, and the Philippines.  Malaysia, Turkey, and Singapore, who have received some of the worst rankings since 2009, have made only slow progress. Roughly 13% of the countries under review had no available services for victim support, and ECPAT reports that even in countries where those services exist, they are often “incomprehensive limited, and unspecialized.” The network recommends that all governments to establish national strategies to fight child sex trafficking, adopt UN protocols to offer more support to victims, and remove “barriers that currently impede full access to support services”

Read the full AlertNet article here.