Africa: Big Problems for Human & Child Trafficking
Updated: May 6
Africa is a unique case study when looking at human trafficking. The 54 continents that makeup Africa are the location of a perfect storm for child trafficking. These factors include poverty, armed conflict, political instability, and cultural aspects like early marriage, and arranged marriage. In a report by UNICEF, Africa was flagged as one of the worst continents for child trafficking in the world. Children on the African continent are at greater risk for being trafficked for many factors, most of which many people do not know about.
Photo by Ban Yido
These factors negatively affect many varieties of people in Africa, not just children. To survive the factors listed above, Africans move from place to place to try to avoid staying somewhere with armed conflict or socio-political crisis. The migrants can stay within Africa, moving from country to country, or they might try to move to other continents. Human trafficking criminals often prey on people down and out of their luck, and people fleeing from life threatening situations become extra vulnerable. Traffickers can deceive these desperate migrants with promises of better life, only to be exploited in many ways.
But child trafficking is a much more complex issue. UNICEF estimates 80% of trafficked persons in Africa are under the age of 16. According to Bello and Olutola, girls often work as domestic servants in wealthy homes, and the majority of the boys serve as street vendors, waiters, beggars on the roads, street urchins, laborers on farm lands and plantations, and for other criminal activities. But arguably the most emotionally distressing form of child trafficking in Africa, child soldiers.
In South Sudan alone, there are an estimated 19,000 children in armed forces, with boys trained to fight and girls taken as forced 'wives'. Some traditional and cultural practices actually allow for marriage of young girls with much older men, with little to no regard for consent. Using children for war is a big issue for human trafficking, and will only get bigger if people continue to be unaware it is happening.
Were you aware of trafficking in Africa or about child soldiers? Comment below!
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