Child Trafficking and Tearfund

No Child Taken

A child is trafficked every 30 seconds; that’s around 3,000 children a day – more than 1 million children a year. 

World organisations are actively fighting to eradicate child trafficking and Tearfund aim to raise £1 million in 2015 to ensure the protection of 50,000 children at great risk globally.

Tearfund work through their partners to protect vulnerable children – those at risk of being trafficked, as well as those vulnerable to disease and disaster.

Through your help, and with their partners, Tearfund can provide:

  • Trafficking Awareness Training – so that children can see through the lies of the traffickers.
  • A Livelihoods Kit – teaching young school leavers vocational skills like sewing and cooking so they can make a safe living close to home.
  • Practical Help – providing families with school uniforms so that younger siblings stay safe in school for as along as possible.

Tearfund Partner – Anne (Laos)

The Realities of Trafficking – Working with Partners.

1.2 million children are trafficked globally every year. How does this happen? Who’s at risk? What can be done about it? Here is a taster of how Tearfund’s partners are working to keep children safe


LAOS: Nang is 12 years old. Girls, like Nang, live close to the Thai border in Laos. Life isn’t easy for them or their families. They are desperately poor, sometimes living on just two dollars a day. They are an easy target for traffickers.

 Just across the border in Thailand, men are looking for girls to ‘staff’ their karaoke bars: brothels where men can pay for drinks, singing and sex.

Girls from Laos are popular in Thai karaoke bars, where they are considered fresh, pure and provincial. 

A job offer from Thailand can seem like a golden ticket for these girls. It promises to end the hunger they feel, give them a livelihood, and allow them to send money back to their families.

 But she might not find out until too late the danger of their decisions.

“These girls are so vulnerable … most don’t know the dangers,” says Tearfund partner Anne. “One girl told me how her (Thai) employer seemed so kind, but then brought her to a room and told her to take off her clothes …”

One in every three young girls leaving the villages in Laos to work in Thailand will be trafficked into the sex trade.

But things are changing. Tearfund partner WCL – a Christian agency working in Laos, a communist country – has a staff team based near Nang’s village. Staff members, like Anne, know how high the stakes are for girls like Nang, and are rolling out trafficking awareness workshops – the first in the area – to equip girls, families and whole communities to stay safe and make good decisions.

They also offer vocational training to young school leavers, providing them with skills such as sewing, cooking and repairing motorbikes so they can make a safe living close to home. Consequently, poverty – the very thing that leaves Nang and other girls vulnerable to trafficking – begins to lose its grip.

Honduras: Maria is 17 years old. She grew up in Honduras – her father died when she was five. Her mother remarried and Maria lived with her stepfather and seven siblings. The family was very poor.

When Maria was 15, she left home to work as a housemaid in Guatemala.

 She met an older girl in Guatemala who persuaded her to go to Nicaragua where she could earn money. They travelled together, but when Maria arrived in Nicaragua, her ‘friend’ sold her to a group of men as a sex slave.

She managed to escape the house she was being kept in and knocked on a neighbour’s door. The neighbour happened to be a Christian. She protected Maria, called the police and helped the prosecutors build a case against Maria’s captors. The Nicaraguan prosecutors oversaw her return to her family in Honduras, but she came back to a difficult family situation.

Social workers who visited her at home recognised that it was not helping her to heal the trauma. She was referred to Tearfund’s safe house, where her life has completely turned around. At the safe house, run by Tearfund partner Red Viva Honduras, Maria receives a safe place to live, education, and love.

“I’m very happy because God gave me the opportunity to be in this home and become a better person. The psychologist here is helping me to forget my past trauma and to focus on my present and future,” Maria said.

“Our [house] mums are like real mothers to us: they have helped me to grow spiritually and emotionally.”

“Now I am proud of who I am. That is why I hope more girls get a chance to come and receive love.”

India: Padma, now 18, spent much of her childhood in prostitution. She was given away age 10, after her parents’ house was burned down by neighbours. Her mother was left desperately poor with no way to provide for Padma. Padma was given away by her mother to a lady she now describes as her stepmother. Her stepmother made her do chores and, one day, dressed her up and took her to a man’s house.

Left alone with the man, Padma was asked to undress. He said that he had paid for her, so she must do as he said. When she refused, he abused her. Padma protested. She was sure that her mother believed she would be married and taken care of – she knew what was happening to her was wrong. But Padma’s stepmother continued to take her to customers.

“They told me I had to work or they would kill me. I had to see ten customers a day. They didn’t feed me properly, and my stepmother would hit me.”

There was a police raid where Padma stayed, but her stepmother hid her and brought her to Mumbai, where things got worse.

“My stepmother became more violent. I had to see customers continually, and when there were no customers, she would hang me from the ceiling fan and beat me.”

After a further raid, Padma was picked up by the police. Her stepmother escaped. Padma dared to testify against her stepmother in court, and was transferred to a safe house, run by a Tearfund partner.

At the safe house, girls receive 24-hour care to help them deal with the trauma they’ve experienced. When they are ready, the girls move on to semi-independent living in a group home, supported by Tearfund’s partners. Here the girls begin to use the skills they’ve been taught in money management, cooking and how to secure and keep a job.

Tearfund’s partner also works closely with a number of the churches in Mumbai, helping them to be the support and family the girls need.

“God has changed my life,” Padma said. “I didn’t think my life could be like this. Now I want to get training, find a good job and do well in life.”

(Names and photos have been changed to protect the girl’s identity)

What is trafficking? Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation and transfer of people by threat, force or deception in order to exploit the person. Exploitation includes forced labour or services, slavery or prostitution. Human trafficking is the fastest- growing criminal activity in the world.

(Source: The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime).

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