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Child Trafficking

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Since 1998 Global March Against Child Labour with its partners have been trying to put forward the linkage between  trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour and servitude, and child prostitution together. Trafficking is not just happening for sexual servitude but most of it is also happening for forced and bonded labour. People generally are not able to distinguish between trafficking and migration.

When the first international legislation on worst forms of child labour was in formative stages in 1998-99, number of governments and other constituents of International Labour Organisation (ILO) were apprehensive as to why trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour and servitude, and child prostitution should be brought under the broad definition of the worst forms of child labour. All these phenomena were being looked upon and understood as distinct concerns with no overlap. The worldwide mass movement, Global March Against Child Labour, played a significant role in harmonising the debate and discussions on this. It was for the first time during this march across 103 countries participated by 7.2 million people that the NGOs working in their distinct areas came under a single umbrella. This resulted unanimous adoption of ILO Convention 182 on worst forms of child labour, encompassing all forms of forced labour and trafficking. Unfortunately, despite its fast ratification, the integrated efforts to address these issues have not been translated in its implementation by most countries. There are few examples like Togo, Costa Rica, Philippines, Kenya and Macedonia, where significant efforts are being tried out though these are never reflected at the policy level.

In early 2007, the largest initiative of its kind in the world against trafficking was launched by the BBA and Global March with their partner organisations in India, Nepal and Bangladesh in the form of the month-long South Asian March Against Child Trafficking across the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh border areas. The march had the dual purpose of elevating the inter-linkages between forced labour and trafficking to the highest policy arena as well as generating awareness on the concern among the masses. The voice of the march reverberated in the Indian Parliament and South Asian policy discussions during the SAARC summit in April 2007.

After South Asian March Against Child Trafficking the issue of child labour, forced labour and bonded labour has been linked with trafficking In March 2007 the UNODC along with other UN agencies and the NGOs launched the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking with a very strong emphasis on forced and bonded labour. Similarly, in one of most important documents on human trafficking, the US State Departments’ Trafficking in Persons Report 2007 has prominently defined and elaborated the interlinkages between forced labour and trafficking of human beings. This is the seventh consecutive report based on in-depth country-wise investigation trying to set parameters and grading. The first five reports focussed primarily on the area of sexual exploitation, understandably so as it is also the most commonly perceived notion of trafficking. It is, thus, important and interesting to uncover the gradual shift in the policy perception of trafficking towards inclusion of all forms as defined in the Palermo Protocol, including forced labour