Organisation Astra and other members of the CHILD10 Foundation dedicated to the eradication of child trafficking issued a joint statement on the occasion of today’s European Anti-Trafficking Day to European governments, including accession countries, calling on them to take urgent preventive to prevent trafficking of children, primarily girls, for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
The organisations state that trafficking of human beings and sexual exploitation of children, especially girls, in order to earn money continues to increase despite growing efforts against it: “During the pandemic, it became apparent that social networks and other online platforms were increasingly used for recruitment and exploitation of young women and girls”.
The organizations note that the recruitment of children for profit, whether they get sexually exploited or otherwise trafficked, is still linked to socio-economically unstable areas and socially vulnerable groups, but that many girls who have recently been trafficked or sexually exploited do not belong to any of the risk groups.
According to the organisations, 59 victims of human trafficking were officially identified in Serbia last year, of which 24 victims were children, 16 girls and 8 boys. Among the sexually exploited persons, 50% were girls, who were between 12 and 15 years old at the time of recruitment. By the end of September this year, 34 victims of trafficking had been officially identified, including 10 girls, the statement said, adding that experts warn that the actual number is far higher.
The Child10 Foundation, its members and Astra state that in order to prevent this worrying trend, efforts to prevent and address the causes of child trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation need to be urgently stepped up:”An important step in such prevention efforts is to increase girls’ safety by introducing modules in education systems that talk about human trafficking in general and human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation online and offline, as well as ways of protection, healthy relationships, the concept of sexual consent and gender equality”.
“We remind the governments of our countries, including the Government of the Republic of Serbia, that such educationalmodules are in accordance with the approach based on the rights of the child and that they should be formed incooperation with civil society organizations that have invaluable knowledge and experience inthis area”, stated Astra.
Translation: Iskra Krstić
This article was ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in Serbian on Oct 18, 2021.