Child trafficking on the rise in 7 Asian countries

D. Arul Rajoo

September 1, 2009 /

BANGKOK: A recent assessment of child trafficking programmes in seven Asian countries, including Malaysia, has found that the tides of trafficking have yet to be stemmed -- despite the best efforts by the governments and aid agencies.

The study, 'Child Trafficking in East and Southeast Asia: Reversing the Trend', showed that a new approach was needed to confront not only child trafficking, but also other related forms of abuse and exploitation.

One of the critical findings of the study was the breaking up of categories of child vulnerabilities and creating different programmes and approaches for each.

Unicef regional director Anupama Rao Singh said, although there were currently dozens of child trafficking programmes in the region, there were also dozens of child labour, sexual exploitation, child violence and neglect and juvenile justice programmes, as well.

"Yet, the core vulnerabilities that put children at risk in these situations should really be addressed together, rather than separately," she said in the report released on the eve of the Pacific Trafficking in Persons Forum in Wellington, New Zealand, beginning Wednesday.

With many programmes on offer, Unicef said this split financial resources, burdened human resources, and stretched already limited capacity to keep pace with new laws, regulations, and similar but different training, procedures and guidelines, she added.

The seven countries assessed in the study are China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The study showed that a great deal had been accomplished in this region in generating bilateral, multilateral and transnational cooperation, as well as unprecedented developments in legislative and policy reform.

However, it also found that although most countries have developed or amended laws and policies with gusto, enforcement has generally been weak due in some part, to insufficient resources, limited capacities, poor coordination or a lack of leadership.

Unicef said the study concluded that what was required to address the situation was the development of national child protection systems within countries, similar to the creation of effective health systems, decades ago. - BERNAMA

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