Art: Street Children are Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

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Art by Mike Mungai (Bwana Mdogo Arts)

Street children constitute an example of the globally deprived and poor. They are highly stigmatized, seen as outcasts and at most treated inhumanly. Their rights are neglected and forgotten.

Communities forgot long a go that they are children just like other children in the society and do need protection and care. These children are trivialized, and do not seem to add into the human statistics of communities in the world. When for example they are injured, harmed etc; people would not raise any brows. This happens because they are   victims of an economic and social system that has secluded them. The street children phenomenon is a symptom of an underlying problem of poverty and hopelessness that is aggravated by the global relations of inclusion and exclusion.

Picture source The daily increasing number of street children does not make the situation any easier. In a street of three kids  one could disappears and maybe a new one will appear to fills  the initial void.. and the cycle continues.
The possibility could be that the new case and the other case are cases of trafficking but who follows these dynamics?

Due to their vulnerability and being trivialized, street children are on a high risk of being trafficked, exploited and they also risk facing untold acts of violence and human rights abuses. In Kenya in 2009, a street boy narrated how extreme acts of violence occur in the streets involving the law enforcers. This narration became a popular musical hit that became controversial as the boy artist had  not been recognized as the artist. He later talked to Ghetto Radio:

“I heard Ghetto radio asking who the original Bonoko singer is and that is when I decided to present myself. I’m surprised that there is even a video to the song and worst of all most people assume that is me;I’m not asking for a lot of money just a little fee for appreciation.” See the saga here

Human trafficking is a great risk faced by the street children. This is for various reasons one being that they have very loose family connections and are known to be very mobile. Their disappearance may hence not raise any alarm. For example if in a particular street there were three children who use to beg together. If it so happens that one of the children is not present in that street anymore, who will ever know? And who will ever bother? And incase this child was trafficked who will ever imagine the ordeal the child is going through whether being defiled, or being slaughtered or being exploited in ways unimaginable to us? This occurs because these children are excluded and outcasts. Their presence or absence is trivial to the mainstream society. The following song shows what the street children pass through: This link takes you to  Bonoko in Ghetto Radio

So Bonoko was interviewed by media back in 2008 as the Kenyan police had just shot a suspected thug in Ngara village, the hood now famous for hosting Ghetto Radio offices. He had this amazing story as he had seen the police killing a young boy, caught urinating at an alleyway. Come to think of it: this is is a common story in Nairobi, where life is worth not more than 50 cents.

After cops shot the young boy dead, they had put a fake gun in his hand to make it look like a legitimate killing. This scenery all being watched by our boy, Bonoko, and bluntly addressed to news hunger media teams. Get the entire story from Ghetto Radio Here

Street girls on the other hand are badly exploited and violated. At times with people who are supposed to help them.

I came back to the streets after my friend was sexually abused by the people who were helping us. She had been damaged badly but no one seemed to care. The streets are scary but I would rather stay here (Mama Africa a street girl in Nairobi).

On the other hand there have been reported cases where children were adopted from children homes only to end up in a trafficking situations. Usually, children homes do not follow up to know what could have happened to the adopted children after the adoption procedure is complete. The children Act 2001 should be updated on the adoption section and compel that the adopters to ensure that the child and the adopters maintains  networks or relations with the original place they got the child. This will help raise eyebrows in good time if  some strange signs are noticed even many years after adoption.

The World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children, adopted by the World Summit for Children 1990, realizes that millions of children around the world live under especially difficult circumstances and deserve special attention, protection and assistance from their families and communities and as part of national efforts and international co-operation. Efforts must be made to ensure that no child is treated as an outcast from society, which is especially relevant for street children.

Story by Muko Ochanda

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