Child trafficking: It’s the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Worldwide, children are being shuttled around like imports and exports to serve the physical and financial needs of the cruelest members of society.
The International Labor Organization estimates that 1.2 million children are being trafficked each year. These innocent kids are being taken away from their families and homes and denied the opportunity to reach their full potential.
According to UNICEF, “violence, exploitation and abuse can affect the child’s physical and mental health in the short and longer term, impairing their ability to learn and socialize, and impacting their transition to adulthood with adverse consequences later in life.”
Though poverty plays a significant role in child trafficking, it is a child’s vulnerability that triggers the trafficking. “The many factors that may come into play in determining the level of vulnerability of a child are often described as ‘individual, family, community or institutional-level risk factors” (UNICEF). For example, at the family level, a child may lose both his parents to AIDS and be left to fend for himself. At the institutional level, a lack of access to education can also leave a child vulnerable to child trafficking.
The Catalyst Foundation addresses these issues of vulnerability and raises awareness for child trafficking. They provide access to schools and increase economic opportunities for over 200 children and their families in Vietnam.
The Catalyst Foundation Vietnam is collaborating with the Dragon Muay Thai Gym of Phuket, Thailand to offer the young girls of the Rach Gia community the unique opportunity to learn self-defense. Many of them, victims of child trafficking, are sold and raped just so they could survive. The Making Waves with Muay Thai project will empower these young girls and help keep them safe.
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By ALYSSA LLAMAS