1.8 million children sold for sex every year

A PETITION was handed into the Leinster House yesterday calling for stricter legislation to be introduced on human trafficking which sees over 1.8 million children, some as young as seven, sold for sex every year.

The petition was launched by the Children’s Rights Alliance and The Body Shop Ireland to raise awareness and vital funds for victims and people at risk of trafficking.

Children’s Rights Alliance chief executive, Jillian van Turnhout, said Ireland is not immune from the crime of child trafficking.

“Recent reports have shown that Ireland is a destination, source and transit country for children subjected to sex trafficking,” she said. “Over 500 children in the care of the state have gone missing since 2000 and it is feared that many may have been trafficked.”

The petition was handed to Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald who said she was eager to actively support the campaign.

“Children and young people are shipped from state to state as modern slaves, indentured to a life of abuse, disease and violence,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the third-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world.

The 1.8 million figure of sex trafficking offences is thought to be much higher due to the underground nature of the crime.

The petition is part of a global campaign which has received 6.8 million signatures in 50 countries worldwide.

The Irish petition calls for action on enforcing laws to prosecute child traffickers and to provide child victims with the support they need to escape and rebuild their lives.

It also calls on the Government to implement the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings 2009-2012.

Ireland is one of only four countries in the EU not to have ratified the optional protocol.

The aim of the global campaign is to team up with other signatories around the world and submit the petitions to the United Nations later this year in a united call for action.

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