Stop Child Trafficking and Exploitation
Protection of Children from Violence and Abuse
Children worldwide suffer from abhorrent acts of violence, exploitation and abuse—horrors no child should ever know or experience. More than 85 million of them are subjected to hazardous physical labor, commercial sex exploitation, fighting as child soldiers, and child trafficking. Others are irrevocably harmed by cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriage. Without basic protections, children are at risk of death, disease, poor physical and mental development, and homelessness.
UNICEF cooperates with governments, NGOs, and international organizations to stop abuse and violence towards children and to protect vulnerable young people through widespread advocacy of legislation, monitoring systems and rehabilitation and recovery programs. We also work with communities to address harmful practices and empower children through educational, life-skills and prevention programs.
- Data show that the average age for marriage is steadily rising in Bangladesh, Guinea, and Nepal—countries where child wedlock is prevalent.
- In Myanmar, the United Nations signed an agreement with the government to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers by Myanmar armed forces.
- In Sudan, UNICEF played a key role in developing the Child Act for Southern Sudan. UNICEF is supporting the law by establishing child-friendly justice systems, demobilizing child soldiers, and supporting mine-risk education.
Special Child Protection in Emergencies and Conflict
Children are especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and trafficking during emergencies and armed conflicts. During times of crisis, UNICEF works diligently to care for children who have been separated from their families; to create protective "child-friendly" spaces; and to offer medical treatment and counseling. In countries wracked by violent conflict and upheaval, UNICEF protects children from military conscription, works to stop trafficking, and helps child soldiers and sex slaves recover and reintegrate into their communities.
- In 2009 alone, UNICEF facilitated the release of 2,813 child soldiers from on-going civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- In the first six months of 2012, UNICEF and partners were able to aid more than 145,000 internally displaced children and adolescents in Syria.
- By July 2012, UNICEF had reached more than 90,000 people in conflict-affected northern Mali to assist with medical, water, education, and child-protection needs.
UNICEF actively advocates to protect children and women from the systematic sexual violence that is increasingly used as a weapon of war. Without protection from violence and exploitation, children’s basic survival and development are at risk.
Every day, millions of children—forced into labor, prostitution or battle—are denied their fundamental right to safety and security. UNICEF's child protection programs strive to create a world where every child grows up free from fear and harm.
Related Child Protection Links
January 8, 2013
In the Niger, where more than 80% of the population lives in rural villages, children are often expected to help with family work around the house and in the fields. One out of three girls in the Niger is married before the age of 15, and 69% of girls do not go to primary school. UNICEF and partners have launched a community-based program to change the way children are perceived and treated and to address the challenges facing children in the Niger today. Young and old, the community now has a forum to express their thoughts on serious issues.
November 16, 2012
In Ethiopia, child marriage and the abduction of girls are some of the harmful traditional practices that affect girls’ lives, choices and opportunities. Schools and communities are now taking measures to help protect girls. Girls can talk about their problems at their school’s girls’ club, and the Bureau of Education, with the support of UNICEF, has conducted community-wide discussions on harmful traditional practices. After the discussions, the community prepares its own set of laws in order to help correct the situation.
November 6, 2012
In Maldives, UNICEF Is Working Closely with the Government to Address Rising Violence Against Girls and Women
Since 2008, there has been a steady increase in the number of rapes and other forms of violence against young girls in Maldives. The number of cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment has also increased. UNICEF is working closely with the Government to address these issues. There is a child abuse prevention program under the Ministry of State for Gender, Family and Human Rights. In addition, UNICEF has contributed to the drafting of a three-year strategy that aims at mass and targeted awareness-raising about the protection of children.