While human trafficking is an inescapable component of child soldiery, very little research exists to illustrate the connections between these two ‘worst forms’ of child labour, says a new report published by The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.
The report, published on the eve of the 2013 International Day of the African Child, examines some of the most significant academic gaps with regard to the intersection of child trafficking and child soldiering, and provides several suggestions as to how experts might learn from one another’s experiences.
Drawing on cases from Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, to name a few, the report argues that while during conflict, the very act of child soldiering constitutes a crime of trafficking. In order to be moved from one battlefield to another, children must be subjected to varying degrees of coercion and abuse. Likewise, their movement must be enabled by corrupt border officials and other shadow facilitators, many of whom go unpunished due to weak national anti-trafficking legislation. This means that the infrastructure of child trafficking—and the potential for children to be victimised in ways other than forced soldiering—persists long after the violence has abated.
"Child traffickers are like automobile factories," said the report's lead author, Carl Conradi. "Their supply always caters to demand. During peacetime, automobile factories produce cars, while during war, they produce tanks. In peacetime, traffickers produce child prostitutes, drug mules and slaves; but when conflict breaks out, those same traffickers may well produce child soldiers."
"This report has the potential to influence international advocacy related to the issues of child soldiers and child labour,” said Shelly Whitman, the Initiative's Executive Director. “We need to begin to think differently and engage in dialogue across silos and sectors in order to create new solutions to these problems."
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Source: Child Soldiers Initiative