What is child trafficking and who is most at risk?
Many people equate child trafficking with kidnapping, but in fact, this is quite rare. Usually trafficking is more complex and often it involves people the child knows. Many cases involve parents who believe they are sending the child abroad to work temporarily at a well-paying job under the supervision of a caring adult - something they see as a legitimate way for a child to help the family.
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, harbouring or receipt of people by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or giving or receiving payments or other benefits to achieve control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation includes, at a minimum, exploitation by prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. Trafficking is illegal, even when a relative allows it, and for anyone under 18 years old, even if the child agrees to it.
Children (and women) fall prey to trafficking for both individual and societal reasons. Individual factors include unemployment, limited education and skills, poverty, lack of parental care and a history of physical and sexual abuse. Societal factors include discrimination based on gender or ethnicity, weak legal frameworks, poor border and migration controls, and corruption. These factors do not necessarily cause trafficking in humans, but together they make children and women more vulnerable to it.
Vulnerability comes from desperation - people without hope are more likely to attempt desperate measures to improve their situation, even when they know the outcome is questionable. Child victims of trafficking typically are:
In Albania, women and children from the traditionally disadvantaged Roma ethnic group are particularly at risk of being trafficked.
Because trafficking is a clandestine criminal act, no one knows how many people are trafficked. Worldwide estimates put the figure at millions of children and women every year.
UNICEF works with the Albanian government, national and international organizations on a four-pillar approach to fight child trafficking. It encompasses prevention of trafficking through raising awareness, protection of children who have been trafficked, assisted voluntary repatriation of children trafficked to other countries who want to return home and reintegration into society. Click here to see Trafficking in Human Beings in South Eastern Europe: 2004 - A Focus on Prevention.