By Roger-Claude Liwanga, Special for CNN
Editor’s note: Roger-Claude Liwanga is a human rights lawyer from the Congo and visiting scholar at Boston University. He worked for The Carter Center as a legal consultant, where he developed a training module to train Congolese judges and prosecutors on the protection of children against trafficking for economic exploitation in the mines. He is also the co-founder and executive director of Promote Congo, and is currently directing and producing a short documentary, “Children of the Mines,” which will be launched shortly in Boston. He writes in his personal capacity.
While the world was celebrating the International Day Against Child Labor on June 12, children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were hard at work in the country’s artisanal mines. Out of two million people working in the DRC’s artisanal mines, 40 percent of them are children.
Six months ago, I met a boy I will call Lukoji in the mine washing site of Dilala near the DRC’s Kolwezi city.
When I first saw him, the seven-year- old was sifting and washing heterogenite, an ore rich in cobalt and copper minerals. He told me: “I began working in the mines when I was five”. He works along with his two brothers who are 12 and 13 years old.
Lukoji only works in the afternoon because he goes to school in the morning. Unlike him, his siblings are school dropouts and work all day in the mine from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lukoji’s brothers abandoned school because their unemployed parents were unable to pay the school fees for all of Lukoji’s siblings.
Seventy-five percent of children surveyed in the DRC’s artisanal mines are dropouts. The DRC’s Constitution guarantees a free elementary education; but this constitutional provision is ineffective and there are almost no schools in many of the remote mining areas. FULL POST
By Ernie Allen, Special for CNN
Editor’s note: Ernie Allen in the president and CEO of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, a global organization to protect children from sexual exploitation and abduction.
Human trafficking, including sex trafficking of children, is moving from the streets to the Internet. Increasingly, the traffickers are also migrating to a new, unregulated, unbanked and largely anonymous Internet-based financial system. For the traffickers, the appeal is obvious. This virtual economy offers them anonymity with little if any regulation or oversight. It is easy, low risk, and enormously profitable.
The issue is complex. The global payments market continues to evolve with the boom in e-commerce and mobile payments and alternative payment methods are being adopted.
In emerging economies mobile payments are becoming more prevalent because there are more mobile phones than bank accounts. Technology is changing the very nature of money and has prompted the creation of a new Internet-based financial system which has resulted in alternative payment methods and digital currencies being widely used today.
However, this new system is unregulated and has become a preferred venue for the sale of illicit drugs, weapons and for those who are involved in commercial child sexual exploitation. FULL POST
Russia and China were downgraded to bottom tier nations for their efforts to fight human trafficking, by a U.S. government report.
In the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, China and Russia were relegated to Tier 3 - the lowest of four rankings which names countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum anti-trafficking standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
The classification includes countries like Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe, and Tier 3 countries are open to sanctions from the U.S. government. FULL POST
Editor’s note: Lauren Hersh is New York Director of Equality Now and head of its Sex Trafficking program combatting violence against women and girls. She is a former prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office which covers Brooklyn.
By Lauren Hersh, Special for CNN, New York
Three months ago, Ruth came into my life. Sixteen years and two weeks old, Ruth is spunky and smart.
She loves Hello Kitty and iced coffee, listens to Alicia Keys and spends days planning her Sweet 16 outfit. Ruth wants to build schools in Africa. Her contagious smile lights up a room. But, for years, the smile I have come to love was hidden.
Ruth is not her real name. She is a sexually exploited child. At 12, after being raped by her mother’s boyfriend, she met an older man who promised to love and care for her. Instead, he brutally beat her, repeatedly raped her and sold her for sex more times than she could count.
There is a common misconception that girls like Ruth choose to enter prostitution. This could not be further from the truth. FULL POST