There has been some analysis of trafficking of children in Asia, where trafficking persists despite significant prevention efforts, however, comparatively little is known about trafficking in the Pacific.
Given that over one-third of the population in the Pacific region is under 15 years of age, anecdotal reports of circumstances which may amount to trafficking raise concerns for the large youth population in the Pacific Islands. Further, although there have been no prosecutions for child trafficking in Australia, the risk experienced by children within the Asia—Pacific region is relevant to responses in Australia and in supporting the development of improved inter-country responses across the region.
This paper examines current definitions of child trafficking, the forms that it is known to take in Asia and the Pacific, the factors which increase vulnerability to trafficking and the mechanisms for the protection of children from this crime. It is clear that greater conceptual clarity in the definition of child trafficking, together with more detailed investigation of trafficking areas that are less well-known such as the trafficking of boys for sexual exploitation and the vulnerability of refugee and migrant children will assist in improving the evidence base for child trafficking and inform the development of more effective responses to these crimes in the Asia—Pacific region.
Although there have been no prosecutions in Australia, the issue is a serious one that warrants closer attention; particularly given Australia's geographic position within a region where several countries are variously affected by problems such as weak migration systems, poor governance and transnational crime. Together with the growing use of technology in offending, these issues suggest a level of risk for children in the region that is of relevance to Australian efforts to address trafficking in persons.
This paper reflects key findings from a review of the available literature on the issue of child trafficking in both Asia and the Pacific. It includes observations on issues such as the forms of child trafficking observed in these regions, factors associated with vulnerability to trafficking and the issue of 'good practice' in the protection of children from this crime.
This paper concludes by noting some of the gaps in the existing literature. What is child trafficking? Trafficking in children persons under the age of 18 years is defined in Article 3 of the Trafficking Protocol UN as involving two elements—an action, in the form of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, which is undertaken for the purpose of exploitation.
There is room for considerable overlap between the specific legal concept of 'trafficking in children' and other concepts regulated by law such as the 'commercial sexual exploitation of children', 'the worst forms of child labour' and 'illegal adoption'. In deciding whether a situation can be classified as 'trafficking in children', it is important to recall the two elements noted above that are required to satisfy the definition.
For example, 'illegal adoption' could constitute a form of child trafficking if it involved a person seeking a child for adoption into their family with the intention of exploiting that child. Children are also affected where their parents are the primary victims of trafficking. Case managers in the Australian Government Support for Victims of People Trafficking Program noted that many of their clients suspected victims of trafficking had children who remained in their home country and could only come to Australia for a visit David This presents issues for the welfare of both the client and their children, particularly given that long court cases involve further separation David Protection for secondary child victims is afforded through Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which encourages states to ensure the protection of children against discrimination or punishment arising from the status or activities of their parents OHCHR Recent changes to the Australian people trafficking visa framework allows victims of trafficking and their immediate families both in Australia and overseas to apply for a Witness Protection Visa earlier in the prosecution process than was previously the case APTIDC Adult vs child victims A critical difference between the trafficking of adults and children centres on the means of control during the trafficking process.
The trafficking of adult men and women must involve an action, a means and a purpose. That is, adult men and women are trafficked if they are recruited, moved, harboured or received through the use of threats, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception or abuse of power, or via a position of vulnerability, for the purpose of exploitation. A child is trafficked if that child was recruited, moved, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation; the element of 'means' is not relevant.
As a result, interpretations of child trafficking vary markedly. A small number of respondents from UN agencies and international non-government organisations involved in trafficking and related areas were asked to review 10 case scenarios and determine whether or not trafficking had occurred.
Each scenario was constructed to ascertain the expert's analysis of the elements of trafficking as they apply to children. Box 1 contains several case studies that were among those presented to the respondents.
No two respondents answered all questions in the same way; an indication of the high degree of confusion regarding what constitutes child trafficking. The case scenarios presented are particularly contentious where they relate to 'grey areas'. For example, should age be a factor in determining agency and vulnerability among all persons under 18 years; that is, is a 17 year old really the same as a four year old Gozdziak ?
Does illegal adoption of a child into a loving family meet the element of exploitation under the UN Trafficking Protocol? And are children who engage in cross-border street begging as part of family income-generating activities being exploited or trafficked? She arrives and finds herself working around the clock with restrictions placed on her movement. Rent and food expenses are inflated and docked from her pay but the balance of her earnings is given to her.
A 17 year old girl from China agrees to an offer made by a recruiter to work in a brothel in Vietnam five days a week for low wages. A 15 year old girl illegally migrates with her family using a human smuggling network and ends up working as a beggar on the city streets.
Although she is not attending school, there are no restrictions on her movement and she gets her cut of the earnings. An eight year old Vietnamese boy is forced by his family to work at a local brick factory. He labours every day carrying 40 pound loads of bricks on his head and engages in other hard physical labour. The owner of the brick factory insists that he has to work for another two years to satisfy the outstanding debt owed by his parents.
The parents of a 14 year old girl from West Java, Indonesia send her to live with relatives in Jakarta. The relatives have promised the girl's parents they will provide her with education, room and board in exchange for light housework. After she arrives, she is allowed to go to school but is forced to come home immediately afterward and do all the housework, babysitting and cooking throughout the week.
Importantly, trafficked children are children who are already vulnerable. Family-related factors such as family breakdown, domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse and neglect, and the low status and role of children all contribute to increased vulnerability due to a lack of care and support for the child within the family environment.
Of particular concern are cultural contexts where children are viewed as 'belonging to their parents or guardians, who have the authority to treat their children as they see fit' UNICEF It is in such circumstances, where children are in 'relatively powerless positions' Bessell Poverty and a lack of employment and educational opportunities places pressure on families to migrate for work and for children to leave school and seek employment, usually in unskilled or low-skilled sectors.
Cultural norms again play a considerable role. In many cultures within the region, girls are considered to be less valuable than boys, resulting in situations where boys are sent to school first while the girls must earn money for their families. Poverty is the primary reason behind children being sent to work in wealthy countries Gozdziak where the promise of good wages renders the practice acceptable Dottridge Cultural practices involving the marriage of young girls, including as payment of family debt or for a 'bride price' can also be used to generate income.
Lack of birth registration has been highlighted as an issue of concern in the southeast Asia region due to the increased vulnerability of stateless persons Refugee International ; Vital Voices Global Partnership Without citizenship, such persons 'have limited or no access to healthcare services, education, travel, employment or political representation' Vital Voices Global Partnership For example, many hill-tribe women and girls who are not afforded Thai citizenship become vulnerable to exploitation through lack of legal status and are known to be trafficked for both labour and sexual purposes Physicians for Human Rights The role of demand Demand for cheap labour, young brides, sex with children and adoption drives the trafficking of children UNICEF Demand for child labour is driven by the fact that children are cheaper to employ, easier to manipulate and control, and unlikely to seek protection through industrial processes.
As the number of children eligible for adoption within developed nations has declined due to factors such as effective birth control reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies, changing community attitudes towards single mothers, changes to child protection and out of home care policies and practices, the demand for adoptable children from around the world, most often from developing nations, has increased.
Commentators have noted that the inter-country adoption system is highly vulnerable to 'child laundering, child trafficking and child exploitation' Smolin Child trafficking in Asia Asia is known to be a region of origin, transit and destination for people trafficking.
Southeast Asia in particular has long been recognised as a significant source of trafficked persons. Regional characteristics, such as high levels of intra-regional and largely irregular migration, extensive land borders and disparities in economic, employment and education opportunities enable the trafficking of people in Asia Joudo Larsen Reported forms of child trafficking in the region include various forms of bonded and exploitative labour, such as domestic services, factory work, agriculture, fishing, construction, sexual exploitation eg child prostitution or the production of child pornography , forced marriage, adoption, and begging UNICEF and conscription into military forces US Department of State Children are trafficked using similar methods across the region.
They are commonly recruited including false recruitment or introduced to work by an acquaintance, deceived by an acquaintance or relative, taken by use of force, abduction or kidnapping or taken with the consent of parents of guardians, which has been secured through a payment or benefit to the adult UNICEF Among the most common methods is the promise of better economic opportunities, which lures children into exploitative industries UNICEF This occurs against a backdrop of children's responsibility to generate income for the family Gozdziak The growing use of social networking sites, chat rooms, email and voiceover internet protocols has had an impact on trafficking in the region, with cases of Thai women and girls trafficked to Japan from initial contact over the internet and reports in Vietnam of students and other adolescents being trafficked after internet chatting UNICEF This mode of recruitment presents a significant issue for prevention, as children are more likely to use the internet Choo , are 'more technologically savvy and at ease with the use of web 2.
Known pathways within the region are set out in Figure 1 and include trafficking of: Although there is less information available regarding child trafficking in east Asia, it is known that trafficking of children generally follows the routes for trafficking of men and women.
However, the trafficking of children from east and southeast Asia is increasingly directed outside the Asia region and includes the following pathways: Trafficking primarily occurs within the context of irregular migration driven by economic disparities between countries within the region.
Movement of this sort is primarily of migrants from less developed countries with a high rate of growth of working-age population such as China and Indonesia to more developed countries with moderate to negative rates of growth of working-age population such as Thailand and Japan; UNICEF Children may choose to move alone or migrate with family, with the majority of such movements beginning voluntarily.
It is only when exploitation occurs at a point in this process that the situation becomes one of trafficking Marshall ; UNICEF Pathways of child trafficking in the Asian region Source: Lee Child trafficking in the Pacific Much research has been conducted on trafficking in Asia, however, very little is known about trafficking into, through and out of the Pacific region. The Pacific region is characterised by a largely youthful population, with almost 37 percent of the region's population aged under 15 years UNSTATS Children in the region are susceptible to a range of exploitative and criminal activities, including commercial sexual exploitation, sex tourism, labour exploitation, illegal adoption, customary marriage and billeting.
As a result of these factors and the high rate of growth of the working-age population World Bank , young people looking for work in the region may choose to migrate and in doing so, may become vulnerable to trafficking. Similarly, limited schooling options in outlying islands have led to an increase in the number of students seeking to attend school in urban areas or overseas Asian Development Bank Other areas of risk relate to cultural practices that support a range of living arrangements for children in the region, including the billeting of children within region-wide familial networks.
Many children and young people seeking access to education or better employment prospects are sent to live with relatives in urban areas. Similarly, children may be informally adopted or fostered within familial networks. In such cases, children may be 'adopted' by an aunt or uncle who has no children of their own.
The logging industry in some Pacific Island nations also presents a significant risk to children. Reports have indicated that employees of foreign logging companies have been implicated in the sexual exploitation of children living in villages which neighbour the logging camps Herbert Early marriages also present a risk for the young women involved, as they are removed from the protection afforded by their own family environment at a time in their life when they are quite vulnerable Ali Across the Pacific, girls can legally marry from as young as 14 years of age, although in some countries, such as the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, customary law allows girls to marry at age 12 and 13 years Ali The custom of 'bride price' in countries such as Papua New Guinea has also been used to trade daughters for cash or other goods from mining or logging employees Ali Low socioeconomic levels and limited employment opportunities create pressure to seek alternatives for income generation in the region.
Subsequently, the Criminal Code Amendment Trafficking in Persons Act created a range of people trafficking offences, including trafficking in children. Receiving a person aged less than 18 years for the same purpose is also an offence. In accordance with the UN Trafficking Protocol, there is no need for the use of deception, force or threats for the offence to be considered one of trafficking in persons.
This offence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years. Other trafficking offences including the trafficking-related offences of sexual servitude and deceptive recruitment, first introduced in are considered to be aggravated offences and attract higher penalties where the victim is a child. There have been no prosecutions relating to child trafficking in Australia to date, however, two possible cases of children trafficked into the Australian sex industry have come to light in recent years.