2007 Mekong Youth Forum (MYF)
2-9 September 2007
According to our discussion and observations, we see that inadequate systems are in place to help victims report their trafficking experiences. Most victims are unaware of where and how they can get assistance. In some cases, we've seen that victims faced discrimination after they returned to their communities. There are also people returning (whom haven't been 'rescued' or returned by authorities) to their homes and who do not even realize they had been victimised. We also think there is not enough prosecution of traffickers.
1. Enforce specific laws that strictly punish traffickers. In particular, those who employ domestic workers and beat them, and those who employ young people for exploitation must be punished, and the communities must be informed on these laws and penalties. This will help prevent others from trafficking children. Traffickers who are in jail must be rehabilitated and educated so that they would not repeat their crimes.
2. Victims need more ways to report the abuses and receive help, and this can be done through mass media campaigns, setting up hotlines at hospitals12 and within communities, and through establishing collaboration systems with local authorities, NGOs and relevant departments. International anti-trafficking hotlines should also be set up and should share the same number (if possible).
3. The decision to return home must be voluntary.
For those returning to their communities:
• There has to be a family assessment before the victim returns to make sure that it is safe for the victim to come back.
• Family should welcome victims without any discrimination.
• Encourage victims to participate in activities so that they can regain their sense of value and belonging in the community.
• Provide psychological support to the victims.
• Provide vocational skills and support according to their needs and find markets for their products.
• There has to be a system to monitor and follow up with the victims after their return. Governments must clearly identify which agencies are responsible for this.
• If for some reason, the family cannot welcome the victim, the community must find another safe place for him/her.
2 Hotline for hospitals will be used by staff to report to authorities on cases that they discover from among their patients.
For those who cannot return to their own communities and families:
• Governments in areas where they like to stay must provide job opportunities for them.
1. Establish child protection networks in village, commune, and province under collaboration with local authority and all people in all levels
2. Enforce specific laws that strictly punish traffickers. This will also prevent others from trafficking children. Those who use domestic workers and beat them, those who employ young people for exploitation must be punished, and the communities must be informed on these laws. Traffickers who are in jail must be rehabilitated and educated so that they would not repeat their crimes.
3. Information materials regarding trafficking, identifying victims and how victims could get help must be made available for young people in local languages in the destination and in places of origin. The material must say that "victims are not offenders..."
As young people living in this region, we realise that everyone needs to be involved in child protection and prevention of trafficking. Children with no protection are vulnerable to trafficking. We have also learned that society, communities, families and schools are not aware of our rights. Sometimes, even we ourselves are not familiar with those rights because we don't have enough access to information. We do not see enough information posted in places where we might look, and the anti-trafficking materials that we do see we often don't like - nor understand. There are tens of thousands of children living in the countryside who have never seen information or materials on anti-trafficking. In their hometowns, there are no financial or human resources to help them learn how to protect themselves from trafficking. Meanwhile in both the cities and in the countryside, there are thousands of children with no parental care. They are vulnerable to trafficking.
1. Advocacy on child rights and anti-trafficking shouldn't only be targeted at children but also adults.
2. If only we had more financial and human support, we as young people could better deliver information on anti-trafficking to other children.
3. In addition, if we can get more involved in developing advocacy materials on child rights, we'll like those materials better.
4. Parents should learn how to be better parents through schools and other means, including media.
5. A system should be set up to support poor families so that parents can stay united with their children, instead of going away to work.
6. More social resources should be allocated to the most marginalised children and to care for children without parents to make sure that they are properly looked after.
7. Child protection systems should be established to help children in all places, especially where trafficking is a big problem - not only in the cities but also in the rural areas.
8. There should be better awareness raising and information sharing within the community about trafficking, including the real stories of victims (who are willing to speak out) or as told through their friends. Education/information materials on human trafficking must be available at schools, supermarkets, stations, and hospitals, so that all people are aware of the issue.
9. More materials should be translated to local (and minority) languages.
10. Governments in our six countries should organise international activities like MYF more regularly and invite the victims (if they are willing) to tell their stories to us to prevent other children from being trafficked.
Since trafficking affects the lives of many children and young people, better solutions to the problem of human trafficking could be found and implemented through direct participation of children and youth. However, there is not enough understanding and support from the government, community and parents regarding children's participation. In general, children do not have enough opportunity to participate and/or they lack the confidence to participate.
There are other factors that need to be addressed to make participation fairer for all young people, such as ongoing discrimination between educated and uneducated children, rich and poor children, those from rural areas and urban areas, as well as gender-based discrimination. All of these affect the opportunities available for participation.
1. All children and youth should be given the opportunity to participate in activities without discrimination between the rich and the poor, educated and uneducated, male and female, children and youth, or against victims, the disabled and people of different religions. The government, parents, and international organisations should provide financial and technical support for children's participation.
2. Children and youth should participate in planning, implementing and monitoring of activities against human trafficking.
3. Provide space for children to share their opinions and their experiences on human trafficking and child participation with other children and youth, and also with responsible adults. Provide victims with opportunities to voluntarily share information with other people as a specific part of this participation effort.
Trafficking victims, poor children, migrant children, stateless children, working children, and children in remote areas don't have a chance to access education and, therefore, they become vulnerable groups. Girls should also
have just as much chance to attend school as boys. Physical abuse and neglect, bullying, as well as discrimination are still problems in schools. These issues can lead to students not wanting to attend school.
Quality of education in remote areas is not equal to that in urban areas. We lack teachers in remote areas due to lack of incentives offered to the teachers. There is lack of information on child trafficking and child protection in schools. There are still parents who don't send children to school and, instead, ask them to work to earn money for the families. Therefore, these children also become vulnerable to trafficking.
1. All children must receive formal education and have access to non-formal education to help protect them from being trafficked.
2. Raise awareness of school teachers (and students) on child protection issues, child rights, and trafficking. There should be stricter punishments to prevent teachers (and other students) from abusing children and discriminating against them.
3. Governments need to supply more - and better-quality - teachers in remote areas. They should include increased incentives for urban teachers to work in these remote areas. Meanwhile, governments should encourage and support villagers to become teachers. We should encourage students to go back to their schools and become teachers after graduation.
4. There should be participatory extra-curricular activities to equip children with knowledge and skills on child trafficking and child protection. Sharing experiences from trafficking victims should be done in school.
5. We should help parents understand that sending their children to school can prevent them from being trafficked and can improve their prospects for the future.
6. Governments should build more schools, provide free basic education (including school materials) and, when necessary, provide financial assistance to poor children to ensure that everyone can go to school.
7. Parents and their communities should encourage children to continue their studies and participate in activities regarding child rights, health education, reproductive health, anti-trafficking, etc.
Because of reasons such as poverty, lack of job opportunities, lack of protection in schools and within families, or not enough land to farm in order to sustain a living, many people - including children - are migrating without the proper documents, both inside the country and to neighbouring countries.
There are either no laws or limited laws that relate to the protection of migrant children. Due to unsafe migration and a lack of information available to young people about the destination, children and youth become very vulnerable. There are language barriers and lack of social support for migrant people working at these destinations, and migrant people in these places are exploited by employers due to lack of documents.
1. The governments of all countries, both at the origin and destination, need to have workable agreements and policies in place to ensure the rights of all migrants (for example, access to legal documents, laws that protect migrants, etc) and to take action immediately in situations of abuse and exploitation. The governments of all countries need to establish an organisation or office which is responsible for providing support to the migrants.
2. There should be no discrimination against migrants. Child protection systems for migrant children must be established in destination areas.
3. Governments and international NGOs should create job opportunities for young people within their own communities/countries so that migration for work does not become their only choice.
4. Set up job information centres in both cities and remote areas to provide information for migrant children and youth (of legal working age) about safe migration and also about available job opportunities.
5. Governments should make efforts to advocate and implement labour laws and get employers to understand them and respect them.
6. Illegal employment agencies should be prohibited,
Children and youth without nationality are at higher risk of being trafficked because they have limited access to protection, they often have no access to basic services such as education, health care or legal help, and they have no right to vote.
1. Officially registering all children born in the country as soon as possible to allow them access to all public services.
2. Government agencies must provide special identification for those whose nationality is not recognised and for victims of trafficking who want to remain in the country where they are at present, in order that they can
rely on receiving basic public care.
3. The destination countries and countries of origin should have more discussions to achieve an agreement on how to identify the migrants' nationalities.
4. Governments should provide equal access to education and educational certificates to all children, even if their nationalities are in question.
i Hotline for hospitals will be used by staff to report to authorities on cases that they discover from among their patients.