This paper examines current definitions of child trafficking, the forms that it is known to take in Asia and the Pacific, the factors which increase vulnerability to trafficking and the mechanisms for the protection of children from this crime.
Children are vulnerable to many forms of abuse and exploitation and have long been victims of trafficking for the purpose of both sexual and labour exploitation. There has been some analysis of trafficking of children in Asia, where trafficking persists despite significant prevention efforts, however, comparatively little is known about trafficking in the Pacific. Given that over one-third of the population in the Pacific region is under 15 years of age, anecdotal reports of circumstances which may amount to trafficking raise concerns for the large youth population in the Pacific Islands. Further, although there have been no prosecutions for child trafficking in Australia, the risk experienced by children within the Asia–Pacific region is relevant to responses in Australia and in supporting the development of improved inter-country responses across the region.
It is clear that greater conceptual clarity in the definition of child trafficking, together with more detailed investigation of trafficking areas that are less well-known (such as the trafficking of boys for sexual exploitation and the vulnerability of refugee and migrant children) will assist in improving the evidence base for child trafficking and inform the development of more effective responses to these crimes in the Asia–Pacific region.
Image: Child, adult shadows, iStock Photo