Trafficking in children is defined under international law as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation.

The issue

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2014, one in three known victims of trafficking were children, with the majority trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. There are no exact estimates on the number of children who are trafficked, but it can occur across borders or within an individual country. When it comes to trafficking children, the use of force, coercion or deception is irrelevant because children are not able to give informed consent to their exploitation.

Our response

We work on an ongoing basis to produce best practice guidelines, research and resources to raise awareness of the issue of child sex trafficking. We contribute to regional policy papers and legislation about trafficking (e.g. the 2011 EU Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings and the EU Strategy Against Human Trafficking) and regularly attend events at regional and global levels to advocate on behalf of vulnerable children.

From 2009 to 2012, The Body Shop and ECPAT International lead an international campaign to “Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People”. Three campaign goals were identified, which called for governments around the world to take specific action. The Body Shop used its global network of 2,500 stores to drive the campaign message and mobilise customer support. We used our experience and expertise to develop and deliver country progress cards and oversee regular updates to monitor progress.

Working together, we collected over seven million signatures and handed them over to the President of the UN Human Rights Council and the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It was one of the largest human rights petitions ever presented to the United Nations. We also raised over $3 million to fund programmes and direct services against child sex trafficking.