Children are Innocent Victims of Covid-19.

A recent paper put together by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) point to the long term impact COVID-19 will have on child labour. It also makes nine recommendations for making the right decisions to reduce the impact COVID-19 will have on children.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought an economic downturn likely to continue long after the current period of sheltering in place. Some 55 per cent of people globally – about 4 billion – do not have any social protection. They are extremely vulnerable to shocks now and over the long term.

For the billion people living in slums, informal settlements and inadequate housing, and those working in the informal economy, lockdowns have crippled livelihoods. Declining working capital from losses in remittances. Business failures are also likely to continue reducing demand for workers, lower wages and eliminate jobs. The result will inevitably be a rise in poverty. The number of people in extreme poverty could skyrocket by 40 million to 60 million this year alone compared to before the crisis. Other estimates point to a 20 per cent rise in 2020.

A study of poverty increases based on three scenarios: global economic contractions of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 20 per cent. It found that the number of people in extreme poverty could soar by 85 million, 180 million and 420 million people, respectively, compared to 2018. With poverty comes child labour. Because households use every available means to survive. Prospects vary by country, but causal estimates of elasticity are mostly above 0.7.

In other words, a 1 percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 percentage point increase in child labour.

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES – AT THE RIGHT TIME

The complexity of child labour and the unique character of the current crisis make it clear that there is no single solution. Past experience indicates, however, that integrating child labour concerns across broader policies for education, social protection, justice, labour markets, and international human and labour rights makes a critical difference. The following pages provide some directions for moving forward…..”  Read the full article.

COVID-19 IMPACT ON CHILD SEX EXPLOITATION

According to the ABC, Online exploitation of children in South East Asia has tripled since the pandemic began. Experts believe the pandemic has trapped children in lockdown for long periods with mothers or parents who may have lost their jobs. Therefore as they look for a new income, selling their children becomes a solution. “87 per cent of online sex exploitation cases in the Philippines involve a female trafficker or facilitator. Most commonly the victim’s own mother.”

“Tougher laws in countries including Australia and the Philippines have helped shift child sexual abuse online”, according to Detective Sergeant Marshall. “Traditionally perpetrators would travel to a country such as the Philippines, and they would commit child sex tourism offences,” he said. “More recently western countries including Australia have enacted laws that are preventing registered sex offenders from travelling.”

However the good news is, that there is a new Australian law to aid in global fight against the online sexual exploitation of children.

“This new legislation recognises that Australians are fuelling the demand for cybersex trafficking of children. In fact, Australians are the third highest purchasers of this abuse as quoted in the recent Global OSEC report. These legislative changes, however, now reflect the Australian public’s resolve to help end OSEC globally,” said IJM Australia Interim Chief Executive Jacob Sarkodee.

Impact in Australia.

Covid-19 has also had an impact in the Freedom Hub Survivor School here in Australia. Our school only has a few girls under 18 years of age. However, we believe this pandemic will have many children caught in abusive homes and many young girls will have been forced into marriage. We will see the full impact in months to come. In the meantime, you can read our blog on how we have adjusted our work with survivors over the last few months.

If you would like to get involved or learn more about out our work and the fight to end modern slavery, join us here.