Blog: Not all child migration is trafficking and not all child work is slavery

31 Jul 2015

This week, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced during his visit to South East Asia that new measures, enshrined in the Modern Slavery Act, will come in to force to curb the growth of human trafficking and slavery. This has, of course, thrown the whole issue of modern-day slavery and trafficking back into the media limelight.

Away from that limelight however, there are other discussions that attempt to go beyond the headlines. Open Democracy’s Beyond Slavery is one such effort. Gina Crivello and I recently posted a blog there on child migration and schooling.

This week on the same Beyond Slavery blog, Mike Dottridge, the former director of Anti-Slavery International has written an uncomfortable but important truth; in the outrage caused by the continued existence of child trafficking and slavery throughout the world today, these practices are all too readily inflated to cover all forms of child migration and work. In this way, a legitimate cause for concern is all too readily translated into inappropriate responses.

The fact that an unknown number of children globally have been and are being trafficked and the fact that an unknown number work in dangerous and exploitative conditions should cause alarm and does need urgent attention, but this does not mean that all children who move away from their family homes or that all who work are trafficked or otherwise abused.

Unfortunately, in identifying what is undoubtedly a problem and doing so without recourse to sound evidence – including and in particular evidence from young people and their families – we risk proposing ‘solutions’ that are at best irrelevant and at worst, misrepresent and greatly exacerbate the situation of many children.

Evidence is essential to understand what is going on, who is affected and in what ways, and what makes a difference; the situation is complicated and unless this evidence includes the experiences and perspectives of those directly affected policy will likely go astray. More…

Jo Boyden, Young Lives Director

We need to end child poverty in order to break the cycle of poverty.