Female Child Trafficking is a Crime

 

Trafficking in women and children is an international scourge and there are hundreds of networks of traffickers who are running and controlling this heinous business worldwide. “Globally, experts agree on estimates that in 2002, more than 700,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking networks worldwide.”

 Female child trafficking is very prevalent as compared to male child trafficking. Female trafficking, including that of girls under the age of 18, is carried out under very primitive custom of 'selling' brides for a price, in some areas of the Cameroon.

Basic Causes of Girl Child Trafficking:

Extreme poverty is the leading cause of girl child trafficking. Other major causes include illiteracy, particularly in the lowest socioeconomic strata in the district, unemployment, lack of sex and health education in curriculum, large size of the average family within the illiterate population, lack of access as well as proper family planning and contraception, lack of welfare for the poor, an extremely weak and anarchic judicial system, lack of access to print and electronic media, lack of advocacy and awareness campaigns by both the NGOs and the government against such practices and the disinterest of police and other government agencies to watch and punish traffickers.

Vulnerable Families and Ethnic Groups

The most vulnerable families are those who are the poorest, occupying the lowest social rung. Usually referred to as out casts, they are people without property, who cannot make two ends meet due to the scarcity of work as well as rampant inflation. There are many among them who genuinely believe that their daughters will lead a prosperous life. They are in hundreds and also live in poverty. The female victims do not belong to a particular age group. Thus, girls aged 11 and above get married, and are sent to the remote districts . The main consideration here is not the age of the bride or the bridegroom, but the booty, which is distributed among different shareholders.

Recommendations for Eradication of Child Trafficking

This issue needs a thorough field research for months if not for years, focusing on all dimensions of girl trafficking including the various customs. Stakeholders involved directly or indirectly in trafficking need to be identified. Strict enforcement, rigorous imprisonment and fines should be imposed on all partners of this crime. Marriages under the age of 18 years should be declared illegal. There is a need to identify and interview the victims if possible. This will not only help in understanding the suffering they face, but also in getting first hand information about the routes, gangs, destinations, as well as the type of criminals involved. Record and data of trafficking must be maintained at the district, provincial and national levels. The government needs to launch a very comprehensive awareness campaign against this business through electronic and print media by organizing seminars, meetings and distribution of literature at the local level. Civil society organizations can play a pivotal role in organizing awareness campaigns and restricting child trafficking especially in girls.

However, the most important remedial measure is the eradication of poverty without which any policy or strategy would most likely fail.

 

By Rosaline Obah