The Scourge of violence, abuse and trafficking Violence against children and women includes physical and mental abuse and injury, neglect or negligent treatment, exploitation and sexual abuse. Violence may take place in homes, schools, orphanages, residential care facilities, on the streets, in the workplace, in prisons and in places of detention. it can affect children’s and women’s physical and mental health, impair their ability to learn and socialize, and undermine their development as functional adults and good parents later in life. in the most severe cases, violence against children and women leads to death.
A conclusive definition of violence seems almost as elusive as gathering the solid statistics and data required to analyze this phenomenon in any depth. Some forms of violence and abuse against children and women seem obvious and are easy to identify; others are hidden; still other forms may be less direct and are not often identified as violence. Categories of violence and abuse can range from political, structural and economic to physical, psychological and emotional. Violence against children and women takes place on the street, in institutions, homes, schools and the workplace. In seeking to tackle some types of violence and abuse against children and women, we must access the external environment in which these children and women find themselves. This requires an awareness of social and economic conditions and recognition of the crucial role of governments in establishing a framework of protection for children and women.
Trafficking in children and women, an affront to human rights and human dignity, has reached epidemic proportions and is escalating out of control. Trafficking affects children and women throughout the world, in both industrialized and developing countries. Trafficked children and women are subjected to prostitution, forced into marriage or illegally adopted; they provide cheap or unpaid labour, work as house servants or beggars, are recruited into armed groups and are used for sports. trafficking exposes children and women to violence, sexual abuse and HIV infection and violates their rights to be protected, grow up in a family environment and have access to education. A ‘victim of trafficking’ is any person who is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country. the use of illicit means, including violence or fraud, is irrelevant. ending trafficking will require international, regional and national cooperation. root causes – poverty, discrimination, exclusion and violence – need to be addressed along with the demand side.
In Bangladesh, the problem is very acute. It is estimated that 10-20,000 persons (30 - 50 per day) are trafficked per year to major cities in India, Pakistan and the Middle East. The ages of the women and girls trafficked range from 7 to 24, with a mean age around 15. As for boys, their age ranges from 4 to 12. Most of the women and girls are trafficked for the sex trade and domestic work, while the boys are recruited to act as camel jockeys and beggars. Once oriented into the sex trade, a girl/woman might find herself forced to service between five and ten clients a day.
Trafficking is made possible by a breakdown in the protective environment. When social, political and economic conflicts are accompanied by poor legal and justice systems, deepening poverty as well as a lack of educational or economic opportunities for children and their families - not to mention the growing demand from the industrialized world for exploitative sex children are left most vulnerable to the prey of traffickers.