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Human Trafficking Thrives Because of Ignorance, Misconception and Deceit
Jul 31, 2018

“Removing the ignorance that allows human trafficking to thrive and understanding the factors that sustain it can help us end this exploitative practice” – Kevin Hyland, ChildFund CEO

Sokhom (14) quit his school in Cambodia to help support his family by working on an industrial farm where he earned less than $5 a day.  ChildFund helped Sokhom return to school, supporting him with clothes, bags, books and a bicycle. He is now in seventh grade and excelling.  Sokham wants to be a teacher when he grows up –  Children should not work because it tires them out easily, they should go to school for their future.”    Photo: ChildFund Australia

Dublin, July 31st, 2018: Brian Mac Neill

Human trafficking, a form of modern slavery, has been thriving under the public radar for many years.  A silent and insidious practice that steals children’s livelihoods and forces them into years of backbreaking servitude, exposing them to multiple dangers.  On a fundamental level, enforced servitude takes away children’s human rights and denys them the right to an education and a route to a better life, one where they can define their own futures.

Human trafficking thrives because of ignorance and sometimes the unintentional complicity of consumers who buy goods from manufactures who may have a lack of transparency in their supply chains, or are deliberately concealing unethical practices that might hurt their bottom line from unwitting consumers.  A second layer of ignorance surrounds the scale of this problem.  Over 150 years since slavery was supposedly abolished, it is estimated that some 40 million people are today categorised as modern day slaves.  It is estimated that as many as 25% are children under the age of 18.  Children are valuable commodities to the unscrupulous forces behind the lucrative trafficking trade because they are the most vulnerable and malleable group in society. They need us to stand up for them and protect their human rights.

A third level of ignorance comes from understanding the role that poverty plays in being a starting point for many forms of enforced servitude .  In its many guises this can include children like Sokhom (above), forced to give up school and sacrifice their futures in severance to the family needs.   Poverty is fundamentally wrong and amoral but putting children in situations where they have to assume the role of adult and put their health, development and very futures in danger is equally amoral.  The more we understand about these linkages and the factors that enable forced labour to thrive, the better equipped we are to eliminate this horrible practice from all of society.

Creating protective environments for children and advocating for recognition of their human rights is something ChildFund has been doing since it first came into being some 80 years ago.  Our newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Kevin Hyland epitomises that desire to create a safer and more just planet for children.  He brings with him to his new role at ChildFund Ireland a wealth of knowledge and years of experience at the forefront of combating human trafficking in all its guises.

Kevin played a critical role in formulating the text for  Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 – “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”

Speaking about his new role at ChildFund Kevin said;

“A lost or stolen childhood can never be replaced.  In our fragile and polarised world far too many children unnecessarily suffer and it is the duty of Ireland and the rest of the international community to reverse this trend.  Removing the ignorance that allows human trafficking to thrive and understanding the factors that sustain it can help us end this exploitative practice. 

No child should endure violence, torture, discrimination or exploitation just by virtue of where they are born.  As Chief Executive of ChildFund Ireland I am determined and resolute to do all I can with partners in Ireland and internationally, to deliver high quality responses to achieve what should be the right of every child, a world where children are happy and free to enjoy their childhood”.


ChildFund Ireland wants to garner public interest and support for this issue, and for human trafficking to be given the priority it deserves.  In recent days the Irish Government was downgraded by the US State Department in its report card on the global fight against human trafficking.  Although the Irish Government has rebutted the downgrade and defended its record, the move empahsises growing international concern for the plight of trafficked people, especially children, right across the world.  Its a timely reminder perhaps that we need clear strategies and policies to help us fight this growing menace.

Ireland is a highly respected and trusted actor on the international stage, as evidenced by its role in the negotiation process for the historic, Sustainable Development Goals.   As a nation we can do more than simply meet our moral obligations, Instead Ireland can show the world real leadership and position itself at the very vanguard of the international fight against trafficking and modern slavery.


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