Innocence Erased: Child explotation and slavery are robbing children of their childhoods
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6
The picture the United Nations paints of world-wide child exploitation is an ugly reminder of the regressed level global society operates at. Estimates state that 700,000 to 2 million children are trafficked around the world for purposes of forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation every year. Looking at the staggering reality that 7 BILLION dollars is raked in annually at it is not surprising so many people have entered into the fray of selling and exploiting children.
The defensless children are subject to human rights violations that include rape, torture, forced abortions, starvation, female circumcision, castration and threats against family members. Often coming from countries that have deep reputations for govermental corruption the children are left voiceless. Their protests stop at the pockets of officals who have been bribed with big dollars to lend a blind eye to those who deal in their trafficking. Afghanistan, Equitorial Guinea, Haiti, Guinea, Uzbekistan, North Korea, Myanmar, Iraq, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangledesh and Chad are the front runners in the child trafficking and slavery market. In Liberia, where the problem ran amok for many years, the situation under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf , has gotten progressively better but still has its challenges. I met several people who recounted to me that they had lost children to organizations that had recruited under the guise of a Christian mission only to be told later that their children had run away from the mission and disappeared without a trace. Depending on the age, sex and size of a child an unscrupulous person can make up to $25,000 selling a child into slavery on the international black market.
What makes the situation more repugnant is that children are being stolen form their families in developing countries because of the high demand to buy one exists in more economically sound countries. There isn’t a blade of grass in the world free of the stain of this horrible sin. Children stolen from Africa, Eastern Europe or the Middle East wind up in countries such as the United States, Australia, Brazil, France, India, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and Germany.
Even more alarmaing is organizations that have waged war against such malfeasance has enemies with-in their own perimeters. In the summer of 2001 soldiers with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Eritrea were purchasing ten-year-old girls for sex in local hotels. Before the arrival of 15,000 UN troops in Cambodia in 1991, there were an estimated 1,000 prostitutes in the capital. Currently, Cambodia’s illegal sex trade generates $500 million a year. No less than 55,000 women and children are sex slaves in Cambodia, 35 percent of which are younger than 18 years of age. Over 5,000 women and children have been trafficked from the Philippines, Russia and Eastern Europe and are forced into prostitution in bars servicing the U.S. Military in South Korea
So who is engaging in this lurid business of evil? You might be surprised to at the answer.
1) Traffickers are members of highly sophisticated networks of organized crime. Ukrainian officials uncovered and detained a criminal group in the city of Dnipropetrovsk, which trafficked Ukrainian girls and women to the United Arab Emirates. They made $2,000 on each girl forced into prostitution. This gang managed to traffic more than 15 Ukrainian young women aged between 16 and 30 to the United Arab Emirates.
2) Traffickers are family members and friends of the trafficking victim. Victims of trafficking are later used to traffic other women and children. Traffickers from Benin see themselves as helping the home community–facilitators for families looking for some extra income. One trafficker commented, “Every girl who travels and who doesn’t get deported is a potential sponsor for more.” Children from Pakistan and Bangladesh are kidnapped or sold by their parents to traffickers who take them to Persian Gulf States including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to work as camel jockeys. These children 3 to 7 years of age and are malnourished to keep their weight below 35 pounds. They suffer physical abuse from the traffickers and work all day training camels. Many of these children suffer extreme injuries or death from falling off camels during the races.
What about us, the land of the free, home of the brave….the country that supposedly is the hallmark for freedom and justice? The truth is a bitter pill to swallow for the United States.
1) 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States from no less than 49 countries every year. As many as 750,000 women and children have been trafficked into the United States over the last decade.
2) Women and children as young as 14 have been trafficked from Mexico to Florida and forced to have sex with as many as 130 clients per week in a trailer park. These women were kept hostage through threats and physical abuse, and were beaten and forced to have abortions. One woman was locked in a closet for 15 days after trying to escape.
3) Cases of trafficking into the United States include women and children who are trafficked from Honduras to Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas; Latvia to Chicago; Mexico to Florida; Korea to Michigan; Japan to Hawaii; Cameroon to Maryland; Taiwan to Seattle; India to California; Vietnam to Atlanta.
4) In Fresno, California Hmong gang members have kidnapped girls between the ages of 11 and 14 and forced into prostitution. The gang members would beat and rape them into submission. These girls were trafficked within the United States and traded between other Hmong communities.
2) The Cadena smuggling ring trafficked women, some as young as 14, from Mexico to Florida. The victims were forced to prostitute themselves with as many as 130 men per week in a trailer park. Of the $25 charged the “Johns” the women received only $3. The Cadena members kept the women hostage through threats and physical abuse. One woman was kept in a closet for 15 days for trying to escape. Some were beaten and forced to have abortions (the cost of which was added to their debt). The women worked until they paid off their debts of $2,000 to $3,000.
The world obviously has lost its way and is in the iniquitous grip of evil and debauchery. A world that cannot, or better yet, will not protect its children must be re-evaluted for its worth and meaning in the universe. These statistics are sickening yet they are the truth. St. Augustine said that the first reaction to truth is anger and my friends if these facts don’t anger you nothing will.
Please consider supporting Chicago based Franciscan Works and its Liberia Mission Incorporated in Liberia, Africa as we fight daily against these human rights abuses that have plauged our world’s children for far too long. We are providing education (classroom and spiritual), food, clothing, health care, art classes, computer classes, sewing and woodwork classes and vocational farm training for 110 full time on-site Liberian children and another 325 day students at our school. This is done in a safe, structured and accountable setting where the child and their saftey comes first, second and last. As well please consider purchasing copies of my book “Memoirs of a Reluctant Servant” as it will help educate you more on the plight of child soldiers in Liberia as well as the daily struggle the country faces in recovering from two catastrophic civil wars. You can find out more about both at:
www.franciscanworks.org, www.readreluctantservant.com and you can find Franciscan Works and Memoirs of a Reluctant Servant both on FACEBOOK. Please take the time to LIKE our pages on FACEBOOK and visit often.
Protect our greatest commodity, the children and give your own sons and daughters long hugs of love today, because millions of parents around the world have lost that opportunity and millions of children just like the one below have lost their childhoods.