Editors luncheon – Billion dollar business of child trafficking
KUALA LUMPUR, 19 November 2005 – Every day around the world, thousands of children are lured and trapped in the abusive web of trafficking.
According to some estimates, more than 30 million women and children in South East Asia have already been victimised and exploited for what is considered to be one of the most profitable businesses in the world today. Trafficking has become so lucrative, that it is able to amass profits in the billions of dollars, similar to the trade in illegal drugs and arms.
The growing trade in human flesh in this dynamic and economically vibrant region represents nearly one-third of the global trafficking trade. Exact numbers however are hard to pinpoint since child trafficking is hidden, mostly out of sight, and victims often fearful of coming forward.
Exposing an exploitative crime
To bring to light this largely underground and exploitative crime, UNICEF Malaysia hosted a luncheon in conjunction with World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse, which brought together more than fifty representatives of Malaysian and foreign media, including editors, producers and senior reporters. Her Excellency Toh Puan Dr. Aishah Ong, Chairman of the Welfare Committee, Association of Minister’s Wives attended the event as the Guest-of-Honour.
Eminent child rights expert and Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Professor Jaap Doek who was also the luncheon’s keynote speaker, called on the Government of Malaysia to formulate bilateral agreements with neighbouring Asian countries pertaining to child trafficking. He said it was essential that all South East Asian nations cooperate to eradicate the world’s second most lucrative cross border crime.
“The Malaysian Government should consider to at least have enough instruments in place in terms of laws, in terms of agreements with regional partners, neighboring countries, so that in case you have a case of commercial sexual exploitation of children, you can easily link that to other countries” he said.
Media’s crucial role
But governments alone cannot fight the war against child trafficking. According to UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Gaye Phillips, the media plays a crucial role in reducing such exploitation.
“Many families and children are dependent on the media, not only for news and entertainment, but also for education of social issues. Media reporting of trafficking issues can also encourage, and influence others, including governments and civil society, to respond to the problem. Additionally, the media can help shape positive attitudes to the victims of trafficking survivors so they are not criminalised. Once rescued, survivors should be assisted to return to their communities.” said Phillips.
In collaboration with the Government, civil society and the media, UNICEF Malaysia is committed to securing a protective environment for women and children, free from the tragic consequences of trafficking.