Casting Light in the Shadows: Child and youth migration, exploitation and trafficking in Viet Nam explored patterns and dynamics in child trafficking and labour exploitation, identified particular factors that increase children’s vulnerability to trafficking, and examined survivors’ experiences of reintegration and access to support services.

Photo: CPV

The study, conducted by Coram International, in partnership with UNICEF and the Institute of Labour and Social Sciences (ILSSA), confirmed that the children exposed to trafficking risks were from all parts of Viet Nam – but noted that children in some regions faced higher than average risk. The children were also found across a range of industries, with girls/young women and boys/young men found to be equally at risk.

“Reliable, sex and age disaggregated data on child exploitation and trafficking are essential for informing policies and programmes, facilitating the planning of services and enabling the participation of survivors and their families. This study provides important evidence on the prevalence of child trafficking and the experiences of exploited or trafficked children. It also reveals that both boys and girls are impacted, reinforcing the need for gender-responsive prevention and responses”, said Lesley Miller, UNICEF Viet Nam Deputy Representative at the launch of the study, jointly held in Ha Noi by CORAM International, UNICEF and the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs.

Ms. Lesley Miller, UNICEF Viet Nam Deputy Representative, at the launch of the study. (Photo: CPV)

The study found that the majority of trafficking victims made active decisions to migrate in pursuit of opportunities and subsequently experienced exploitation in the context of these pursuits, often due to their vulnerability. Children and young people from deprived backgrounds and those living in poverty were particularly vulnerable to trafficking. The study found the majority of victims of child trafficking were subjected to some form of violence and labour exploitation.

“The majority of trafficking survivors never access support services. Furthermore, services were found to be focussed on a particular profile of trafficking victim: typically, female victims of sex or marriage trafficking, who were trafficked across borders”, said Kara Apland, Senior Researcher of CORAM International – co-author of the report.

Evidence from the study confirmed the harmful effects of trafficking on survivors, who faced challenges reintegrating into their communities and stigma, particularly women and girls.

The evidence presented in the report has implications for policy and programming initiatives to combat child trafficking and labour exploitation. Based on consultation with government, international organizations and NGO partners, the report details a number of recommendations to address the issues. Among these, promoting an integrated approach to anti-trafficking is key, ensuring that child trafficking prevention and response efforts are core elements in the ongoing national efforts to develop a comprehensive child protection system.

Prioritisation of children’s access to education and skills training and (for older children and young people) safe employment opportunities and livelihood programmes are also among the recommendations. The report confirms that such programmes must be underpinned with trafficking prevention messages that raise community awareness of risks to girls and boys, that build the capacity of law enforcement, and that actively combat the stigma often directed at the victims./.

Khac Kien