Child trafficking concerns have been frequently raised by the Ombudsman for Children, the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and a range of NGOs. Since 2000, over 500 children in the care of the state have gone missing. A shocking 90% remain missing, and it is feared that many may have been trafficked. Ireland has a detailed National Action Plan to tackle human trafficking but the Plan’s recommendations in relation to child trafficking need to become practice now, if victims are to be adequately protected.
In August 2009, The Body Shop Ireland and ECPAT global began a three-year global campaign entitled: Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People. The three aims of the campaign were to raise awareness of the 1.2 million children trafficked globally on an annual basis, influence governments worldwide to implement stricter anti-trafficking policies and legislation, and empower ordinary people to make a difference.
The Alliance joined the campaign in Ireland to help launch The Body Shop’s Soft Hands, Kind Heart handcream. The hand cream went on sale in 12 stores throughout Ireland for €5.95 (£3.45 donated directly to campaigns and prevention projects against child trafficking in Ireland), raising over €40,000 for anti-trafficking of projects in Ireland. Sales of the handcream stopped in October 2011.
Country Progress Card & Petition
On 8 July 2010, a global petition and Country Progress Card was launched on Dublin’s Grafton Street branch of The Body Shop. Celebrity supporters across the world traced their hand in support, including: Twilight’s Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Sir Ben Kingsley, Yoko Ono, Joanna Lumley, Mark Ronson, Joely Richardson, Denise van Outen, and Pixie Lott.
In Ireland, we were supported by RTE’s Prime Time Keelin Shanley and Fair City Actress, Lisa Harding.
The Progress Card, developed by ECPAT and the Alliance, identifies Ireland’s progress in combating the sex trafficking of children and young people. An executive summary was also produced. Ireland was among the 53% of countries deemed to be showing ‘some progress’ in putting an end to the third largest, and fastest growing, criminal industry in the world, but Ireland continues to be a destination for child trafficking as well as a transit point for children trafficked to the UK.
The petition developed in Ireland called for the following:
- Identify child victims and enforce laws to prosecute child traffickers;
- Provide child victims with the support they need to escape their traffickers and rebuild their lives;
- Implement the Irish Government’s National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings 2009-2012; and
- Ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
The Alliance joined The Body Shop Ireland and ECPAT International on 21 July 2011 to hand the petition over to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD. Over 165,000 signatures were collected in Ireland, and a Government official told the Alliance that ‘positive steps’ would now be taken to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.