Over 100 Million Children Subjected to Slavery, Sexual Exploitation
On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June, two United Nations independent human rights experts highlighted that of the 215 million children working throughout the world, more than half are subjected to the worst forms of child labour, including sexual and labour exploitation.
“One of the most abhorrent forms of child slavery is found in mining and quarrying, where children start work from the age of three,” said the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, in a news release.
She added that children working in this sector, the majority of whom are boys, “are treated as commodities and face particular physical, psychological, economic and sexual exploitation. ”Recent reports show that with the current economic crises there is more reliance on commodities such as gold, a demand that has increased the numbers of boys and girls working in mines and quarries.
“During my country visits, I have seen how unscrupulous employers take advantage of children’s small physique for artisanal mining which results in their stunted growth. In artisanal mining, both boys and girls handle highly toxic chemicals to extract minerals exposing them to irreversible health damages,” Shahinian said, noting the physically demanding work the children are subjected to in such circumstances.
**Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography**
The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid, said that the sexual exploitation of children is a serious human rights violation which gravely compromises the integrity, health and development of children, as well as the full enjoyment of their rights, the [UN](http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=42208&Cr=child+labour&Cr1=) reported.
“Although States and the whole international community have undertaken, via the ratification of international and regional instruments and other initiatives, to combat this phenomenon, the sexual exploitation of children in countries of all regions persists and reaches sometimes alarming levels,” Maalla M’jid said.
She urged States to fulfil their responsibility to protect, rehabilitate and reintegrate victims, provide reparation for damage caused to children, penalize those responsible, change certain social norms, and ultimately prevent this phenomenon.
In addition, both Shahinian and Maalla M’jid said that they shared the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) concerns that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour are slowing down, and called for a boosted global campaign to end the practice.
According to ILO, new estimates released on 1 June showed that some five million children are caught in forced labour, which includes conditions such as commercial sexual exploitation and debt bondage – and this is thought to be an underestimate.
**Human Trafficking Generates $32 Billion Annually**
According to the ILO human trafficking generates $32 billion annually, making it a threat of “extraordinary proportions,” said on 17 April the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime [(UNODC)](http://www.unodc.org/unodc/), Yury Fedotov.
“It will require a coordinated and meaningful response at all levels: local, regional and international, if we are to have success against this global crime,” he said in a news release. Fedotov signed the agreement with IOM Director General William Lacy Swing on the margins of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Border Security Initiative.
The signing of this cooperation agreement confirms IOM’s determination to step up its cooperation with UNODC to further combat trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling and to ensure borders are managed in an integrated, modern and humane way,” said Swing.The two agencies are already working closely in the area of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in Southern Africa, West Africa, the Horn of Africa and Colombia.
[2012 Human Wrongs Watch](http://human-wrongs-watch.net/2012/06/13/8409/)