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Human Trafficking Awareness Month 2022

January 03rd, 2022

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What is Child Sex Trafficking?

“Sex Trafficking encompasses the range of activities involved when a trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person to engage in a commercial sex act or cause a child to engage in a commercial sex act”.*

*2021 Trafficking in Persons Report, US State Department.

 

Because children are not able to consent to sexual activity, any commercial sex act involving a child is considered sex trafficking. Debt, poverty, and the lack of stable adult caregivers are significant factors that increase a child’s vulnerability to being exploited through trafficking. Regardless of whether an incident happens once or is reoccuring, the perpetrator can be charged with sex trafficking. Sex trafficking can also include online exploitation such as the production or distribution of child pornography.

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More than anything, Chea wanted to go to school. But her family lacked the resources to pay for school uniforms and supplies for her and her five siblings. When a man came to her village to recruit children for a school in town, Chea begged her parents to let her go. Knowing that they could not send her themselves, they let her go. When the man brought Chea to town, the man raped her in the back of a bar. Chea was forced into sex trafficking. She didn’t know anyone in the town and had no way of communicating with her parents. 

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Chea’s story is a representation of the nightmare experienced by more than 1 million children* who are sexually exploited through trafficking every year. 

*International Labor Organization, 2017. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery. 

 

Rapha exists to care for young survivors of trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. To join us in combatting human trafficking in 2022, partner with Rapha today.

What is Labor Trafficking?

Labor trafficking occurs when a person is exploited through involuntary and/or uncompensated labor. Labor trafficking often includes inhumane working conditions that can be both physically dangerous and emotionally traumatizing. There are many different forms of labor trafficking, but it is often seen in the hospitality, textile, agriculture, and construction industries, among many others.

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Waan and her family moved to Thailand to escape violence and extreme poverty in their own country. They paid a guide to bring them through the jungle to Thailand. He said he would find jobs for her mother and father when they arrived there. When they finally arrived in Thailand, Waan and her parents were forced to work for the man, who said they owed him much more money than was originally agreed upon. They worked at his farm for 12 or more hours a day without pay. They stayed on the farm and ate small scraps of food there. The man then said that they owed him even more for room and board. Waan and her family were trapped.

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Waan’s story is a representation of the devastating entrapment experienced by 25 million people* who are trafficked for forced labor today. 

*International Labor Organization, 2017. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery. 

 

Rapha exists to care for young survivors of trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Many children served by Rapha have been subject to labor trafficking. To join us in combatting human trafficking in 2022, partner with Rapha today. 

What is Domestic Servitude?

Domestic Servitude occurs when someone is forced to provide labor in a private residence. Similar to labor trafficking, individuals trapped in domestic servitude receive unfair (if any) compensation for their work. The perpetrator has control over the victim’s work hours, food stability, and housing. In addition to the physical and sexual abuse that often takes place in domestic servitude, there is significant emotional and mental trauma due to the amount of control that is exercised over the vicitm. In Haiti, there is a system for domestic servitude called the “restavek” system, in which poor families send their children to live with families with more resources. Families are typically promised that their child will receive room, board, and education in exchange for domestic work, but instead, children are often mistreated, abused, and denied access to education. 

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Ophelie’s family was terribly poor. She lived with her grandmother and seven of her siblings and cousins. They often did not have enough food to eat and their home did not provide adequate shelter from the frequent tropical storms. In Haiti, families sometimes send children to live with another family due to poverty. Ideally, the child will help with household chores, but also get to go to school, eat regularly, and have a safe place to stay. Ophelie’s grandmother sent her to stay with a wealthy family. Ophelie was forced to work long days and never got to go to school. She only ate what was thrown away at the end of the meal, and she was beaten by other servants in the house. Every night, the teenage boy living in the house would come into her room and sexually abuse her.

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Ophelie’s story is a representation of the terrifying reality for an estimated 300,000 children* trapped in the restavek system in Haiti. 

*CDC, 2012. Research Brief: Haitian Children who are Domestic Servants are Vulnerable to Violence.

 

Rapha exists to care for young survivors of trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Many children served by Rapha in Haiti have been subject to the abusive restavek system. To join us in combatting human trafficking in 2022, partner with Rapha today.

What is Trafficking in Orphanages?

Trafficking in orphanages takes place when a child is taken to an orphanage and exploited for financial gain. Children who are victims of this type of trafficking have a living parent or guardian who is willing to care for them, but are often suffering from extreme poverty. When the child is recruited by or surrendered at the orphanage, the operators of the orphanage are able to use the “orphan” for profit. Donors send funds that are often pocketed by orphanage directors. Missions and volunteer teams visit to provide labor and resources- resources that are similarly misappropriated. Often there is falsification of paperwork stating that a child is an orphan and illegal steps taken that allow a child to be placed in an orphanage and even adopted. Children in orphanages are extremely vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse, malnutrition, and labor trafficking. 

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Amede’s father lost his job and was forced to move to another part of the country to find work. A man from the local orphanage visited Amede's house and promised his father that Amede would be well taken care of if he was placed in the orphanage. The man told Amede’s father that he would go to school and perhaps even have the opportunity to attend university abroad when the time came. Amede’s father felt assured that it was right for Amede, so he sent him with the man to the orphanage. At the orphanage, Amede lived in a crowded and dirty dormitory with dozens of other children. When teams of short term mission workers from wealthy countries visited the orphanage, he played with the visitors and was given good food, but when the teams departed the children were left to fend for themselves. Those teams donated supplies and money for the orphanage, but the director of the orphanage kept them for himself and his family. 

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Amede’s story is a representation of the tragedy of the orphanage crisis that leaves over 5 million children* (80% of whom have living parents) vulnerable to exploitation in orphanages worldwide.

*Desmond et al., 2020. “Prevalence and number of children living in institutional care: global, regional, and country estimates.” The Lancet, 4(5). 

 

Rapha exists to advocate for children like Amede. Our staff in Haiti are actively working to collaborate with other organizations and the government to protect children from exploitation in orphanages. To join us in combatting human trafficking in 2022, partner with Rapha today.