Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Understanding Child Trafficking and Sex Slave Trafficking

While I am off traveling to Cambodia for the next few days, and unable to reach the internet for a while, I have left you with a few posts on the history of Cambodia, orphans, and child trafficking. You will also notice on the right sidebar I have linked to a few books on the subject if you would like to learn more.

The Kingdom of Cambodia, called Kampuchea in Khmer, is a small state in South East Asia. Cambodia borders Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. The capital is Phnom Penh with about 4 million people
Most of the 13 million population is ethnic Khmer, followed by ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, Muslim Cham and some hill tribes. Most people are Buddhist, with animists and Christian minorities. Most people are young and poorly-educated. There is a dramatic lack of professionals and expertise, as the Khmer Rouge specifically targeted educated people. Rumors include that during the regime of Pol Pot he had all of the educated people killed, including anyone who were glasses, because they appeared educated. The country has been forced to rebuild for the last 30 years without its more educated, leading class. 
In the 1960s-1980s, one of the worst genocidal civil wars began. After political coups and with the Vietnam War next door, the Khmer Rouge took power and began systematically dismantling culture, infrastructure and families. Up to 3 million Cambodians are estimated to have died during the war and subsequent starvation.
Cambodia’s economy was once largely agriculture, then relied on foreign aid. However, it is improving and diversifying with tourism and the garment industry growing rapidly. Rice, fish, timber, garments (lots of international brands made in Cambodian factories) and rubber are major exports.
Cambodia has major problems with landmines, child prostitution, rural poverty and corruption. The Riverkids Orphanage (where I will be working) specializes in victims of extreme poverty and in child trafficking/prostitution. Many of the children may have one or two existing parents. But their definition of "orphan" is different from the US version. To them it means they do not have parents who are able to provide for them. 
Stats on child trafficking- (borrowed from Stop Child Trafficking Now)

  • Child/Human Trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Child/ human trafficking is the world’s second largest criminal enterprise, after drugs. U.S. State Department
  • The global market of child trafficking at over $12 billion a year with over 1.2 million child victims. UNICEF
  • As many as 2.8 million children run away each year in the US. Within 48 hours of hitting the streets, one-third of these children are lured or recruited into the underground world of prostitution and pornography.The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • The average age of entry for children victimized by the sex trade industry is 12 years. U.S. Department of Justice
  • Approximately 80% of human trafficking victims are women and girls and up to 50% are minors.  U.S. State Department
  • The average number of victims for non-incestuous pedophiles who molest girls is 20, for pedophiles who prefer boys 100! The Association For the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA)
  • 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk every year for commercial sexual exploitation. U.S. Department of Justice
  • 600,000 – 800,000 people are bought and sold across international borders each year; 50% are children, most are female. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade.  U.S. Department of State, 2004, Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington, D.C.
  • An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year. The number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher, with an estimated 200,000 American children at risk for trafficking into the sex industry. U.S. Department of Justice Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons
  • Investigators and researchers estimate the average predator in the U.S. can make more than $200,000 a year off one young girl.  NBC Report by Teri Williams
The children who arrive at Riverkids have most likely at some point attempted to be sold by their parents. Why would parents do this? Generally because they were destitute and could not provide for their children. In some cases the parents were told their child was going to work in Vietnam and would taken care of. In those cases the parents thought they were doing a good thing. The "river kids" also get their names for being the orphaned children who were found going through the slums on the side of the river, looking for trash to sell or eat (think Slumdog Millionaire). Many of these orphans were truly kidnapped right off the river and sold down stream to someone else. 

It is because of the difficulties identifying how a child ended up in an orphanage, and identifying who the parents were, that has halted the progression of adoptions out of the country. This all involves the Hague Treaty, and that is a post for another day. 

If you would like to make donations to help out these sweet children, Riverkids has provided some simple ways to see how your money makes a difference-

For instance-
$15 for coal for cooking
$10.60 for groceries
At the site I believe I will be at (Railway 2) they say a donation of just $17.10 will provide lights and wiring for the school rooms.

If you want to help these children you can visit the Riverkids What to Give page and make a donation there.

And I will also offer this to you, if there is something special you would like me to do on your behalf while I am there (that is not listed on their website), whether it be buy them new toys, get them a special treat, send them letters (email them to me, or scan a child's drawing to me, and I can print them up), I would be happy to make that happen for you. If you would like to send me a few dollars via paypal , you can reach me at erinannie at yahoo for my account there. Just add a note telling me how you want your money spent. I promise to spend it your way, document it, take pictures of it being done, and get it back to you. For instance, sending just $10 via paypal, could take over a dozen children to see a play, or to go swimming.

I would love to act in your proxy to make things happen for these wonderful children!

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