Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Children Who Really Need Our Help

This blog is about protecting our children. Over at my husband's blog, Cheat Seeking Missiles, he's been blogging about some children who need so much more protection than they're receiving: the girls, and to a lesser extent boys, who are sold into sexual slavery.

This was the subject Oprah dedicated her show to yesterday, with guest Ricky Martin -- you know, Living the Vida Loca. He stopped singing a couple years ago to dedicate himself to saving these kids, and has saved 150 so far. He's hoping to build 600 shelters in some of the most impacted countries, and in tsunami-hit countries as well.

His foundation, People for Children, has a Web site that is very rich in information about the extent and heartbreak of this most tragic human condition, provided by the US State Department. Click on the "Information" link, then on "Trafficking in Person Report by Country" link and just check out a few of the countries listed. You'll be horrified.

For example, here's what's going on in Cambodia:
Cambodia is a source and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Cambodian men, women, and children who cross into Thailand, often as illegal migrants, are forced into labor or prostitution by traffickers. Cambodian children are trafficked into Vietnam and forced to work as street beggars. Vietnamese women and girls are trafficked into Cambodia for prostitution. Cambodian women and children are trafficked internally for sexual exploitation.
In Cuba kids are forced to become part of a diabolical sex-tourist business:
Cuba is a country of internal trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Minors are victimized in sexual exploitation connected to the state-run tourism industry. Despite occasional measures by the Government of Cuba to crack down on prostitution, state-controlled tourism establishments and independent operators facilitate and even encourage the sexual exploitation of minors by foreign tourists.
And the problem is even prevalent even in Europe:
France is a destination country for victims, primarily women, trafficked from Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of prostitution and domestic servitude. French police estimate that 90of the 15,000 prostitutes working in France are trafficking victims, and that 3,000 to 8,000 children are forced into prostitution and labor, including begging.
But that's just three. Dozens of countries are listed. There's also the opportunity to make donations.

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