Child trafficking: the modern day slave trade

Jen Banbury is in the Creative Services Department at the U.S. Fund.        

Imagine the life of a 6-year old girl, far from home, forced to spend all day ducking between cars on busy streets and beg drivers for change. Think of what life must be like for a 12-year-old boy who works long hours every single day in a gold mine. Picture an 8-year-old girl, forced into prostitution.

These are often the fates of children who have been trafficked. Child trafficking can take many forms, but it is, in essence, a modern day slave trade.

Not My Life" a documentary made with support from UNICEF and other international non-governmental organizations shines a light on child trafficking.

In the most technical terms, a child who is trafficked "is any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred, harbored or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country." It's a rather dry definition for a practice that is flat-out horrific. In the course of being trafficked, children are often robbed, mistreated and yoked into jobs that require toiling long hours for little or no money. And those children may be considered lucky compared to the ones who find themselves enslaved in prostitution.

An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide each year for cheap labor and sexual exploitation. Not surprisingly, the true number of victims is impossible to document - most children are trafficked by men and women who work very hard to keep their business a secret.

Now a new documentary seeks to draw attention to child trafficking. The documentary "Not My Life"directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert Bilheimer and narrated by actress Ashley Judd was made with support from UNICEF and other international non-governmental organizations. The film was shot over the course of four years in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, India, and Africa and it takes an unflinching look at the multi-billion dollar industry of child trafficking.

"Not My Life" recently premiered at Lincoln Center in New York. The goal of the filmmakers is to make the film as widely available as possible to increase awareness of this terrible global practice.

UNICEF fights to protect children who are the victims of trafficking by providing them with safe havens, a chance at an education and the knowledge that they are not alone. UNICEF works with governments to pass anti-trafficking legislation and works with communities to identify and rescue children who are victims. But the problem is massive. And the more attention it gets, the better. Keep an eye out for "Not My Life" and be sure to watch it.



Debbie Marulanda


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"Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions and the actions which speak louder than words. It is making the time when there is none. It is coming through time after time, year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of, the power to change the face of things. It is the triumph of integrity over skepticism".

~Abraham Lincoln






Helping victims of human trafficking is as simple as talking to a friend. Host an event and invite the community to discuss the exploitation of human beings. At this campaign, we are eager to spread the word and we'd like to talk at any community event about human trafficking and victim identification.

For more information, contact us at


Trafficking in Persons Report 2016


Date: 06/30/2016 Description: Trafficking in Persons Report 2016. - State Dept Image











PDF Format

-Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 -- Complete Report (PDF)
-Introductory Material (PDF)
-Country Narratives: A-C (PDF)
-Country Narratives: D-I (PDF)
-Country Narratives: J-M (PDF)
-Country Narratives: N-S (PDF)
-Country Narratives: T-Z and Special Case (PDF)
-Relevant International Conventions/Closing Material (PDF)




These are some of the things you can do to help fight human trafficking:

Be informed! Educate yourself about human trafficking by reading about it. Follow events in the news. Keep your eyes open - human trafficking is happening all around us.

Raise awareness! Talk to friends, family and colleagues. You could even start talking to your local politicians and authorities.

Get involved! Participate in an anti-trafficking movement in your area and get involved in its activities and campaigns (e.g. hold events, distribute posters, leaflets etc.) in your neighborhood and in schools.

Encourage businesses! Be a responsible consumer! Inform yourself on the labour policies of companies to ensure their products are free from slave labour and other forms of exploitation. If possible, buy fair trade products.

Seek support! If you suspect that someone has been trafficked report it to the institutions or assistance facilities dealing with human trafficking in your area.


Office to Monitor and

Combat Trafficking

in Persons


"It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name -- modern slavery."

– President Barack OBAMA

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