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Posts Tagged ‘Asia’


Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

By Liam Sweeney

sold_photo1Think back, if you can, to year 6. What were you doing then? You probably didn’t even know what a prostitute was. But for many of the children living in the red light districts of countries like India, Cambodia and Thailand, at the same age- and younger!- they know all too well what a prostitute is. They are one.

What is child trafficking?
Child trafficking is the recruitment, transfer and receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficked children usually live in poverty. They are sold, kidnapped or sometimes enticed with promises (which are soon broken) of a better life. Exploitation can include forced labour, slavery, recruitment as child soldiers or beggars, and many are forced to become sex workers.

It is estimated that over 1 million children are involved in the commercial sex trade. That’s equivalent to a quarter of New Zealand’s population, trapped in a world where anything goes and there is very little to protect them. This tragic trade is more widespread than you may think. Although there are laws against this in most countries, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports that people from 127 different countries are being sexually exploited in 137 different nations - with 50% of these people being minors! Confronted with these shocking statistics you may ask, what’s being done about this? But the real issue is why is it happening in the first place?

Demand and Supply
You might assume it is due to the conditions the child is living in, poverty. Children who live in slums or poor areas are often in a situation where their parents are desperate – sometimes so desperate that they sell their child for extra income. But poverty isn’t the sole cause of child prostitution. Poverty is a factor that makes it easier for traffickers to exploit people desperate for money, or a different life. But traffickers would not be able exploit children if there was no demand. You don’t need to be an expert in economics to realise that with no demand a product will not be sold. But unfortunately, as the figures show, there is a high demand for this trade, and according to Anti-Slavery International, demand is growing.

Sexualisation of Children
The main demand comes from people, mostly men, all across the world, who can afford to travel to these countries for sex. This is called child sex tourism. It is hard to imagine why these people would do this. But if you take a look around you, you may see some clues. Advertising and the media play a huge role in shaping the thoughts and desires of people. Every time you barbie-dollturn on your TV or open a magazine you are likely to see sexually revealing images being used to sell a product, anything from a car to a burger. Children, especially girls, are sexualised at a young age. From the pole dancing kit marketed in the UK to girls as young as 5, to the classic icon of a Barbie doll dressed in a miniskirt and high heels, flirting with boyfriend Ken, girls are viewed by some as mini women. Add to this the powerful influence of consumerism - the attitude that anything can be bought - and you will find people willing to act on their desires and pay any price to get what they want.

You can help
The horrifying reality of child prostitution is experienced by children from every continent. While poverty and the powerful forces of money, the media and consumerism allow (even encourage) this trade to thrive, there can never be any justification for this kind of child exploitation. Show you care by finding out more about the issue and getting involved in the fight to stop child prostitution.


  • Go to the Stop The Traffik website and check out their ideas for how to help.
  • Join the Stop The Traffik page on Bebo and Myspace
  • The ECPAT website suggests that if you or your family are going on holiday, find out if your travel company or hotel has signed the Code of Conduct. (This relates to the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism.) If it has not, then find a one that has!
  • Be informed and make your protests heard for your fellow children across the world.

This article was originally published in the Global Focus pages of Tearaway Magazine.

VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

What do they do?
VSA recruits and sends skilled New Zealanders to work as volunteers with communities in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

How can I get involved?
Volunteer overseas! VSA has formed an alliance with Students Partnerships Worldwide (SPW) and is recruiting now for 18-28 year olds looking for a 9-11 month experience in Africa. You will go through a training programme, where you’ll learn new and fun ways of teaching messages about health and the environment. Then you will be posted to a community with local volunteers, where you will be supported by SPW to work on one of three key themes: health (and in particular HIV/AIDS education), the environment, or community development.