This year marks the bicentennial of the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, yet slavery remains widespread, particularly among vulnerable girls. The shameful statistics must mobilise us to stop violence against the girl child.
An estimated 1.39 million children are involved in forced commercial exploitation, the majority of them girls. Modern slavery takes many forms: child labour, bonded labour, forced labour, forced recruitment of children in armed conflict, the traffic in persons and sexual exploitation, sale of children, etc.
The exploitation impacts million of people, particularly vulnerable groups, which include children, women, indigenous peoples, and debt-bonded labourers, with a common linking factor: poverty.
EI sent a delegation to the recent Fifty-first UN Commission on the Status of Women session (New York, Feb 26 – March 9); the theme for the discussion was “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”.
“The fact that there are forms of slavery in our world today should fill us all with shame,” said highest rank UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.
“Despite progress, millions of girls are not receiving adequate educations, exploited for their labour, trafficked and exposed to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director.
Jan Eastman, while welcoming the Global Initiative to fight human trafficking and modern-day slavery, taken by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), concurred: “Modern slavery practices are unacceptable and we can do so much to help girls and women live a life of dignity and freedom”.
On December 2, The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery will commemorate the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. This is a useful recognition of progress that has been made, but EI also call governments:
- to invest and increase access to education for all girls;
- to respect and enforce laws that protect girls and women;
- to take measures to halt trafficking, prosecute those guilty of perpetrating such crimes and to protect victims.
EI calls its affiliates to work with parents groups and civil society organizations at the national and regional levels to promote education for girls, to combat child prostitution, child labour and other negative practices.
- 126 million children aged 5-17 are believed to be engaged in hazardous work, excluding child domestic labour
- The ILO estimates that more girls under age 16 are in domestic service than any other category of work or child labour
- Children represent 40-50 per cent of all victims of forced labour
- 5.7 million children are trapped in forced and bonded labour
- 1.39 million children are involved in forced commercial exploitation
- 12,000 Nepalese children, mainly girls, are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation each year
- 28,000 children under the age of 18, half of them 10-14 years old, are used in prostitution in South Africa
- 150 million girls under 18 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence