Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of persons through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation occurs in various settings, including (but not limited to) brothels, strip clubs, massage parlors, on the street (sometimes coined “track”), or in private homes. Individuals can be trafficked domestically and across international borders. According to the ILO, 4.8 million individuals are exploited for sex. Women and children are the most common victims found to be trafficked for sex. More recently, however, LGBT identifying individuals, especially transgender individuals, are increasingly found to be victims of sexual exploitation.
Globally there are 168 million child laborers, over half of whom (85 million) are in hazardous work conditions. It is possible for minors, individuals below the age of 18, to participate in work that does not negatively affect their health, personal development, or schooling. However “child labor” frequently refers to work that does have a deleterious effect on children’s health, including depriving them of a childhood and reaching their potential. This work may be mentally or physically dangerous or harmful to children, or it may interfere with their schooling. As children are more easily manipulated and require fewer resources to survive, the use of child labor increases with poverty, globalization, and the demand for cheap labor.
More extreme forms of child labor include enslavement and trafficking. Children may be abducted, sacrificed for the betterment of the family, or promised an education by their trafficker. They are trafficked into domestic work, sexual exploitation, hazardous child labor, begging, and other illegal activities such as stealing, illegal adoption, or early marriage, or used as child soldiers.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
Sex trafficking includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Trafficking involves the exploitation of a child for sex by an adult, usually accompanied by a payment to the child or one or more third parties. CSEC does not require the presence of force, fraud, or coercion; rather, any form of sexual exploitation, ranging from sexual favors to commercial sexual exploitation, are considered CSEC. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possible death.
Forced and Child Marriage
The International Labour Organization estimates that 15.4 million people live in forced marriages.
Forced marriage occurs when an individual, regardless of their age, has been forced to marry without consent. Forced marriage can include forced marriage of adults, early or child marriage, and trafficking for marriage. In these circumstances, individuals are often subjected to forced labor, sexual exploitation, and/or domestic servitude.
The risk of exploitation and abuse is compounded when the victim of forced marriage is a child. Forced marriage of children has negative education, economic, and health impacts in addition to stripping a child of their childhood and control over their future. When girls are married off, they often leave school, leading to limited economic opportunities. Further, given the age of many brides and their lack of power in sexual relations, there can be severe health complications stemming from early pregnancies before the body is developed enough to give birth.
There are hundreds of thousands of child soldiers worldwide. Child soldiers are defined as individuals below the age of 18 who are, or have been, recruited or used by armed forces or groups in any capacity. The definition includes both boys and girls who are used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes. Perpetrators not only include rebel groups, but also government forces and paramilitary organizations. Child soldiers endure extreme psychological and physiological damage, making reintegration into their communities and life in general very difficult.
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