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Child Soldier With Assault Rifle - AK-47A child soldier in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda

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TIP is a worldwide problem posing a transnational threat involving violations of basic human rights. TIP is a leading source of profits for organized crime, together with drugs and weapons, generating billions of dollars. TIP affects virtually every country in the world.

TIP is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to provide labor or services or commercial sex. TIP involves exploitation of all types. TIP can include elements of recruiting, harboring, transportation, providing or obtaining a person for the purpose of exploitation. The three most common forms of trafficking are: 1) Labor Trafficking, 2) Sex Trafficking and 3) Child Soldiering.

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1) Labor Trafficking

• Labor or service compelled by force, fraud, or coercion
• Victims found in any location or industry: factories, farms, construction, restaurants, mines, or personal homes
• Children are also labor trafficking victims
• Debt bondage: using a debt to compel labor from a person

Recent studies show the majority of human trafficking in the world takes the form of forced labor. Also known as involuntary servitude, forced labor may result when unscrupulous employers exploit workers made more vulnerable by high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, or cultural acceptance of the practice. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, but individuals also may be forced into labor in their own countries.

Female victims of forced or bonded labor, especially women and girls in domestic servitude, are often sexually exploited as well. Labor trafficking can also occur within debt bondage, as women and girls are forced to continue in prostitution through the use of unlawful “debt” purportedly incurred through their transportation, recruitment, or even their crude “sale,” which exploiters insist they must pay off before they can be free.

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2) Sex Trafficking

• Commercial sex completed by force, fraud, or coercion
• Victims founds in: brothels, street prostitution, escort services,or pornography
• Children sex tourism: traveling to countries to have sex with children

Sex trafficking comprises a smaller but still very significant portion of overall human trafficking. When an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution – or maintained in prostitution through coercion – that person is a victim of trafficking. All of those involved in recruiting, transporting, harboring, receiving, or obtaining the person for that purpose have committed a trafficking crime.

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3) Child Soldiering

• Unlawful recruitment of children under 18 by government or nongovernment armed forces
• Children are used as combatants, cooks, servants, messengers, spies, or sex slaves
• Children are often sexually and physically abused
• Children are forced to commit atrocities against others
• 200,000-300,000 children in over 57 armed conflicts worldwide
• Average age: 15-18, but young as 7

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Child soldiering can be a manifestation of human trafficking where it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children – through force, fraud, or coercion – as combatants or for labor or sexual exploitation by armed forces. Perpetrators may be government forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. Many children are forcibly abducted to be used as combatants.

Others are made unlawfully to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry or have sex with male combatants. Both male and female child soldiers are often sexually abused and are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

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Sources:  US Department of Defense – Combating Trafficking in Persons Program, US  Department of State, the United Nations, and the International Labor Organization

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