Published date: 
12 Aug 2009

Children's Rights Alliance LogoIrish Refugee Council Logo

Wednesday 12 August 2009:


The Children’s Rights Alliance and the Irish Refugee Council have today (13 August (11am, The Body Shop, Grafton St, Dublin)) joined hands to back a three-year global campaign between The Body Shop and ECPAT Global, entitled: Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People.  Its three aims are to raise awareness of the 1.2 million children trafficked globally on an annual basis, influence the Irish Government to implement stricter anti-trafficking policies and legislation, and empower ordinary people to make a difference.  To accompany the campaign, The Body Shop also launches the Soft Hands, Kind Heart hand cream today, which will be on sale in 12 stores throughout Ireland for €5.95 (£3.45 donated directly to campaigns and prevention projects against child trafficking in Ireland).

A growing problem in Ireland, child trafficking is a grave human rights abuse that destroys childhoods.   In 2008, nearly 400 separated children came to Ireland; 10% went missing, many of whom are likely to have been trafficked.  Since 2000, a total of 496 children placed in the care of the HSE have gone missing; the vast majority, 434 vulnerable children, remain missing.  The Body Shop is supportive of the work conducted by the Children’s Rights Alliance and the Irish Refugee Council to support separated children and stop child trafficking in Ireland; both organisations have repeatedly called on the Irish State to acknowledge the existence of child trafficking in Ireland and to put in place measures to tackle trafficking, including the provision of adequate care and accommodation for separated children, raising their level of care to the same standard as other children in HSE care.  Furthermore, there is an urgent need to provide legal protection, safe accommodation and therapeutic supports for child victims of trafficking.

Unfortunately, the Government’s unwillingness to acknowledge the vulnerability of 16-and-17-year-olds is a major stumbling block for campaigners.  In a Body Shop consumer report, it was found that the public keep their eyes peeled for 6-to 10-year-olds, but fail to do the same for those in the 16- and 17- year-old age range, who are most likely to be at risk.  Blinkered by the mature looks of this age group, a forgotten group of children are easily trafficked into the sex industry or exploitative labour in front of an unsuspecting public on commercial airlines, ferries, trains and coaches.  

Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, a coalition of over 90 NGOs working for the rights and needs of children, says: “In order to stop child trafficking, public awareness of it needs to be heightened.  The Government must do more to guarantee children and young people their right to protection from traffickers who profit from the misery they inflict on children.  There is a reluctance to acknowledge that this very modern slave trade is happening here in Ireland.  The evidence from child victims identified in Ireland cannot be ignored any longer.  Child trafficking is not easy to spot and not easy to talk about, but if we are all aware of it, then we are in a better position to stop children falling through the cracks in society. We can, and must, stop child trafficking.”

Robin Hanan, of the Irish Refugee Council, says: "This campaign could not have come at a more important time.  We are all becoming more aware of the scale and human impact of the international trade in human beings.  Government, voluntary organisations and the HSE are increasingly co-operating to put in place plans, training and actions to fight trafficking at home and internationally.   We are also waiting for the Dáil to finalise the 'Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, 2008 ' which, among other things, will determine what protection and support will be given to victims of trafficking.  We are aware, in particular, of the vulnerability of separated children arriving in Ireland to trafficking and we welcome the recent Government decision to end the use of separately run hostels for separated children seeking asylum and accommodate children in mainstream care, on a par with other children in the care system.  The implementation of this decision will be vital to the protection of these children."

Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Children’s Rights Alliance
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087 7702845

  • The Children’s Rights Alliance and the Irish Refugee Council will join The Body Shop at the launch of the campaign and accompanying hand cream at 11am in the Grafton St branch on Thursday 13 August.
  • The most common form of child trafficking is for sexual exploitation (accounting for 79% of all trafficking); children are also trafficked and exploited for labour, forced participation in criminal activities, forced marriage, illegal adoption and domestic servitude. 
  • Child trafficking is the third largest international crime (following illegal drugs and arms trafficking)
  • The Children’s Rights Alliance and the Irish Refugee Council are members of the Action for Separated Children in Ireland coalition, together with Barnardos and ISPCC.
  • In June, the Human Rights Council of the UN submitted a procedural resolution on ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’, which includes the provision that ‘unaccompanied or separated children already abroad should in principle enjoy the same level of protection and care as national children in the country concerned’.  It is hoped that the General Assembly will adopt these guidelines on the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in November.
  • The Body Shop International plc is the original ethical cosmetics company, now operating more than 2,500 stores in over 60 markets worldwide.
  • For more information, visit the ECPAT child trafficking campaign web page

Examples of case-studies below:

3-year-old Female Nigerian    A Nigerian woman was arrested for smuggling the girl into Ireland, using the identity papers of a four-year-old boy.
10-year-old Female Romanian (Roma)  Tallaght, Dublin  It is suspected that she was subjected to an arranged marriage to an 18-year-old.  Placed under an emergency care order, she went missing less than a week after she had been taken into care by the Gardaí.
 15-year-old Female Zambian  (2002 case)  Wexford  A Congolese man was convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl and accused of raping another 13-year-old Zambian girl.  The 15-year-old girl was brought to Ireland by this man and his wife ‘to help rear [their] children’.  The man was previously arrested in Zambia on allegations of sexual assault and child trafficking to Europe.  After finally escaping to a Garda station in Wexford, the two girls were placed in foster care.
 15-year-old Female Somalian  Dublin  Rescued from a brothel by Gardaí, she has been trafficked to Ireland.  She was placed in HSE care but without adequate staffing to watch over her; the girl went missing from the centre within days.
 16-year-old Female Nigerian    She arrived as a separated child and was enticed out of her HSE care placement by a man who later got her involved in prostitution.
 16-year-old Female East African  Co. Louth  She came to the attention of Gardaí after being held captive in a house and abused.  She was taken from her home village in Africa aged 12 years and inducted into sex slavery in different countries before being trafficked to Ireland.
 17-year-old Female West African  Sligo  She came to the attention of Gardaí after working as a prostitute.  Further investigation revealed she was trafficked to Ireland for the intention of being exploited by an organised prostitution ring.
 Age unknown Female
 Kilkenny  She was found by Gardaí in a brothel.  She was identified as a suspected victim of trafficking.  She was charged at Carlow District Court with failing to produce papers.
Children's Rights Alliance