How educating children on their rights can prevent human trafficking
World-wide, 45.8 million people are currently being trafficked. These victims are often forced or tricked into forms of exploitation in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and the sex trade. 1.2 million children will be trafficked this year alone.
At One Day’s Wages, we believe that rights education can help prevent trafficking by empowering children to be advocates for themselves.
Trafficking in Thailand
Here, nearly half a million people are enslaved through some form of human trafficking. Thailand is an epicenter for the sex trade with well established trafficking routes. Currently, 60,000 children are in the Thai sex trade.
Although Thailand is considered a developed country, this development is unevenly distributed. Particularly in rural areas, people face wide ranging disparities and extreme poverty. This includes lack of access to quality education.
When families are living in poverty, children may be obligated to help provide income at home. This disincentives parents from sending their kids to school. On average, a Thai child goes to school for only 6.6 years.
While trying to find a way to support their family, children are at a higher risk of being exploited. Sometimes, these children end up entering the sex trade or other forms of human trafficking to help provide income.
Other ways children can fall victim to trafficking schemes is by being tricked with gifts or other offers. Parents may be promised a stipend for sending their child to work. Often times parents don’t know their children can potentially be exploited in these situations, and children don’t know what to look for or how to protect themselves.
Rights education empowers
This week we’re joining forces with our partner The Freedom Story on a rights and trafficking awareness program. Rights education in particular helps children understand both their legal and human rights, so they can make good decisions and keep themselves safe.
The Freedom Story, is an organization that seeks to end sex trafficking by educating children. ODW first partnered with them in 2013 to fund a family awareness camp, and then on the opening of a new education center.
Their programs have given at least 120 scholarships to children to help them remain in school. The success of their program is outstanding: 93 percent of students graduate. They have also provided 5,600 hours of mentorship for the students. A mentor can be a good role model for the youth, inspiring healthy choices, leadership and continued education.
The children who will be enrolled in the rights and trafficking awareness program will learn about ways they can protect themselves in abusive situations. They will be taught about their rights over their own bodies, including strategies they can use when they feel unsafe. It will allow children, their parents, and the community to know their rights under the Thai law, and The Freedom Story will provide legal assistance if necessary.
By educating children and families about their rights and the dangers of human trafficking, children will be less likely to be manipulated or forced into the industry. Children will also be more likely to stay in school, enabling them to eventually get a good job that provides a fair wage.
To learn more about this project or support our work preventing human trafficking in Thailand through eduction, click here.
Jessinia Ruff is an ODW Blog Contributor and student at Seattle Pacific University.
Header photo by Benjamin Edwards.
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