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CWLA and Other Organizations Address Worldwide Traffic in Child Prostitution and Child Sex Slaves

7/6/2001:   Child Welfare League of America, through the International Office, works with the UN, UNICEF, and the International Labor Organization, among many other groups to end child labor, particularly when such labor is performed under cruel conditions or by child slaves. These organizations also work to end the kidnapping and sale of children into prostitution, often through debt bondage arrangements. The programs highlighted below focus predominantly on children in Asia, but similar problems occur elsewhere. For further information and links, go to http://www.cwla.org/programs/international.

  • The Center for Protection of Children’s Rights in Bangkok (http://www.ffc.or.th/ffceng/) notes that, because of low wages, high interest charges, and cheating, debt bondage traps millions of people with obligations that may be passed from generation to generation. With no social safety net, a bad harvest or serious illness might result in starvation for a family; selling a child to repay debts seems better than death. For other information and ways to help, see also Child Workers in Asia, at http://www.cwa.tnet.co.th.

  • In Tungipara, 25 miles from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, approximately 1,000 children, mostly girls, were reported missing several years ago. To earn money and help support their families back home, the children had left with labor contractors who promised good jobs in the Persian Gulf. No children had been heard from subsequently. After months of investigation, Abdul Momen, head of Women and Children International, concluded the rumors were true: the employment agents were slavers. The children had been sold to the brothels of other countries. (In many cases, the youngest boys were shipped to the Gulf to be "camel jockeys" - screaming children tied to the backs of racing camels to make the animals run faster.) For details, see http://www.iabolish.com/index.htm.

  • End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT; see http://www.ecpat.net) focuses primarily on the hundreds of thousands of Asia’s children - mostly girls, but also boys - who have been taken from their homes or even sold by their families and then delivered to bordellos. There, the children fuel a sex industry that is patronized predominantly by Western and Japanese men. Sex tourism, centered in Thailand but found throughout Asia, enslaves girls as young as eight years old. The fear of AIDS has resulted in demand for girls who are supposedly free of disease. Therefore, very young girls are now being lured or kidnapped from Burma, China, and Cambodia. ECPAT also collaborates on the RugMark (http://www.rugmark.org) campaign to free child laborers from manufacturing rugs throughout Asia. Both the Rugmark and ECPAT websites have additional information about child labor and ways to participate in ending these practices.

    Content contributed by Marty Scherr and Salik Makil

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