By Volunteer Shritama Sarkar, FHI Bangalore
As we drive back home, we see innocent faces on the streets selling the things they should be playing with, sometimes balloons, sometimes a toy car. We buy them, sometimes we don’t, and just grant them a few pennies. But with this, do we really help them?
She was just 11 when she went missing from her home town. She reached the city amidst violence. She never saw her family again. She was sold while still a daughter.
Among many, child trafficking depicts another miserable side of society. The International Labour Organisation found that about 21 million people are trapped in forced labor or slavery, and of those, one in four are under the age of 18. Though this issue doesn’t have much of a gender bias playing a role, it’s seen that female minors are more likely to be the victims of child trafficking.
What is child trafficking?
As the UN defines, human trafficking refers to the ‘recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons’ by threat, force, or abuse of power. Thus child trafficking refers to the trade and transportation of children by threat, abuse, or lure.
Children are in the most vulnerable position for being trafficked. This is because they can be lured very easily. They’re often promised a better life. Traffickers target children to acquire cheap labor and then they force these children into hazardous and illegal slavery such as domestic labor, sexual exploitation or prostitution, drug couriering or even turning them into child soldiers and suicide bombers.
Child trafficking is an utter violation of child rights. It traumatizes the victims immensely. The innocent beings are forced to work in hazardous places where they are exposed to many dangers, they’re denied to get an education, neither do they have any freedom to make their own choices. Their childhood is completely snatched away.
Two core underlying aspects need to be looked at.
Poverty is the main cause of child trafficking. It increases the vulnerability of the victims. It is essential to reduce the poverty of the families so they can take better care of their children. It would aid reduce the chances of getting lured into child trafficking
Education acts as a strong base. It helps create awareness among the children about trafficking and also enables them to escape such situations. They become more informed. Not just that, schools become safe spaces for children as they can be protected therefrom any harm through safety information, adult supervision, and a higher stance of being identified and documented.
There have been several global initiatives taken to eradicate this issue. Some have been effective, yet there’s more to be done. Thus comes the need to increase more and more awareness about the existence of child trafficking and the need to eliminate it from society.
Today, online media has proven to do wonders when it comes to spreading awareness for a cause and taking an action.
Following are some suggestions:
- Tell/ Show a Story
Stories are a powerful tool for creating awareness. A touch of familiarity and communication goes a long way in running a successful campaign. Non-profit organizations have the benefit of acquiring true stories due to the on-the-ground nature of their work. And these true stories could be put into a noble use of creating awareness.
Though the story could be first-hand recordings or narrated by a volunteer, first-hand narrations would be more effective as individuals are always more drawn to a cause when explained in first-person by someone who’s directly involved or affected. Stories are always more compelling and powerful to touch the audience.
A virtual short film screening event could as well be held to raise awareness. A small collection of short films depicting child trafficking could be prepared for virtual screening. This could be a good way to let impactful stories reach the masses
2. Contests with a Powerful Hashtag
Virtual campaigns and contests could be conducted as they could become a great way to get people involved in the cause and provide them an incentive to volunteer their time and energy into raising awareness for the same.
Campaigns with a specific call-to-action are always successful. Signing or starting a petition to stop child trafficking, calling or emailing a representative or senator, or volunteering could be a few ideas.
Painting contests, Writing competitions, and Spoken Word challenges on the theme of child trafficking could be conducted to invite participation from the audience. Certificates and badges could be offered as prizes to the winners and the work of all the participants could be featured on the stories of the organization’s official page.
Another awareness challenge could be, if a child is spotted around who’s been forced to work, then that shall be informed to the organization for further action. After doing so, they could be asked to put up a picture with “CHILD TRAFFICKING AWARENESS” written on a sheet of paper and tag friends to take up the same challenge. This would increase the reach to the masses.
And don’t forget to add the hashtag. The power of a hashtag cannot be underestimated. They have a wide reach in today’s times. #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo are some great examples. Hashtag associated with a meaningful cause is a great tool for raising awareness.
3. Exclusive Interviews and Webinars
Inviting inspiring people who work on the eradication of child trafficking for talks and webinars would be a good idea to raise awareness. Activists, policymakers, major donors, or anyone who’s touched by this cause could be invited. Not only this would raise awareness about the cause, but offer a fresh and empowering perspective as well for the audience and the organization.