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Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

Child trafficking

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-2579/Shehzad Noorani
Parul hides her face in Proshanti, a shelter managed by the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA). She was married at 14 years old, but her husband abandoned her when she became pregnant. She left the baby with her parents when her aunt offered to find her a job in Dhaka. The aunt instead brought her to Kolkata, India, and sold her to a brothel. She was forced to become a sex worker. She was later arrested in a police raid and sent to a local women’s shelter.

According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (2000), child trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. It is a violation of their rights, their well-being and denies them the opportunity to reach their full potential.

While recent research has yielded information on the nature of child trafficking, little is known about its magnitude.  The International Labor Organization’s 2002 estimation of 1.2 million children being trafficked each year remains the reference (Every Child Counts, New Global estimate on Child Labour).

UNICEF works with development partners, governments and non-governmental organizations on all aspects of anti-trafficking responses – prevention, protection and prosecution – and supports evidence-based research to strengthen interventions.

To reduce vulnerabilities that make children susceptible to trafficking, UNICEF assists governments in strengthening laws, policies and services including legislative review and reforms, establishing minimum labour standards, and supporting access to education. UNICEF also works with communities to change norms and practices that exacerbate children’s vulnerabilities to trafficking.

Protecting trafficked children requires timely victim identification, placing them in safe environment, providing them with social services, health care, psychosocial support, and reintegration with family and community, if it is proven to be in their best interest.  UNICEF assists by supporting training of professionals working with children including social workers, health workers, police and border officials to effectively deal with trafficking. Additionally, UNICEF supports governments in setting standards in dealing with child trafficking such as developing and training responsible personnel on child friendly interviewing techniques. 

Visit the resources page for more information.




Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, An analytical review 10 years on from the adoption of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, 2010

ILO, UNICEF and UNGIFT, Training manual to fight trafficking in children for labour, sexual and other forms of exploitation, 2009

UNODC, UNICEF, UNHCR, OHCHR, OSCE, OAS, ECPAT, DAW, ILO, IOM, UNICRI, International Framework for Action to Implement the Trafficking in Persons Protocol , 2009

UNICEF, Guidelines on the protection of child victims of trafficking, 2006

UNICEF, Inter-Parliamentary Union,  Handbook for Parliamentarians: Combating Child Trafficking, 2005


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