The Terrible Fate Of Trafficked Child

Shocking details of how children are being trafficked into Scotland to act as domestic slaves are revealed in a report by Save the Children. The study highlights the case of an eight-year-old boy from Bangladesh forced into labour by a family in Scotland.

It also describes how a girl from Kenya was locked indoors and made to perform housework, including looking after a baby. She was later subjected to sexual advances from the male of the house.

The report, A Hidden Trade, was unveiled this week at a seminar on trafficking in Glasgow, organised by the Legal Services Agency. It states there has been an increasing trend in child trafficking into and across Scotland in the past few years.

Youngsters are increasingly arriving into the country without adults and in “unusual and concerning circumstances”, the study found. Between January and August 2006, 51 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) arrived in Glasgow – 20 were under 16 years old.

“The majority were smuggled or trafficked,” said the report. There is also evidence that children are being presented at border controls accompanied by adults assumed to be relatives or guardians but may, in fact, be traffickers or their aides.

Authorities in Scotland have little idea of the true extent of trafficking because suspicious cases are not always followed up, says Save the Children.

Social workers do not have time to investigate how children arrived here because they are too busy looking after the child’s immediate welfare. Some children later go missing from care – which could indicate they have been snatched and sold on by traffickers, say charities.

Of the 188 UASCs who have arrived in Scotland since 2001, 10 have later absconded. In Scotland, much of the efforts to tackle trafficking have focused on the sex industry.

Operation Pentameter, a UK-wide police crackdown, recovered 188 women, 84 of whom were trafficked. But the trade in children has grown beyond the sex industry into domestic servitude, which is harder for authorities to detect. In certain Asian and African cultures, the hiring or buying of children as domestic slaves is seen as acceptable.

Save the Children wants the Scottish Executive to establish a national database of children whose arrival is “unusual or suspicious”. In addition, it says the executive should appoint a lead officer to co-ordinate Scotland’s response to trafficking.

The report was backed by Kathleen Marshall, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. She said: “The Save the Children report is a welcome contribution and call for action. There is no place for slavery in Scotland. These children and young people can be little less than slaves.

“We need a push to develop systems for reporting concerns and monitoring cases, and we need to provide training and guidance on identifying and responding to the needs of some youngsters in desperate circumstances.”

An executive spokeswoman said: “Trafficking is a despicable trade – all the more so when the individuals concerned are young people. We have seen initiatives such as Operation Pentameter send a signal to those involved that these activities will not be tolerated. In the coming weeks, we expect to be able to jointly announce further action with the Home Office on trafficking.”