We expect the state to protect children, no matter who they are or where they are from. But some of the most vulnerable children in the UK are being failed by the Government. Too many trafficked children are falling through the human rights safety net designed to protect us all. When it comes to dealing with victims of child trafficking, a child’s immigration status and not their protection come first and they are being let down by authorities we expect to look after them.
Just a few weeks after The Children’s Society and Refugee Council published new research (Still at Risk) documenting the experiences of trafficked children, the UN body responsible for children will be hearing from UK NGOs about whether the UK is doing enough to protect these children. The message in the Still At Risk report (which was commissioned by the Home Office) is clear – the authorities’ focus on border control and crime prevention means that they are continuing to fail this most vulnerable group of children.
Victims of child trafficking have been “recruited” for exploitation, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced criminality, forced begging and domestic servitude. When they arrive, usually unaccompanied, they often do not know to which country they have been transported, are unable to speak the language, are afraid of their traffickers and confused about what is happening. Unfamiliar with the culture and afraid of authorities, these children have no idea what they can do about their situation, or whom they can trust. Many do not even understand that what is happening to them is wrong – which is exactly the reason why traffickers target children, because they are inherently vulnerable and trusting.
Read more from the Children’s Rights Alliance for England.