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The Child Trafficking in Greece: An Introduction

Updated on January 21, 2015

Introduction

As mentioned in some of my earlier articles here on Hubpages, child trafficking is a huge, international problem. Just about every country has some sort of issue related to child trafficking; just some have gotten better about putting perpetrators to justice and have stronger assistance programs for victims of child trafficking than others. This article will help to introduce many of you to a particular case where child trafficking is fairly new, yet increasing as an issue: child trafficking in Greece. This article will go over the types of child trafficking that occurs in Greece, the current efforts the Greek government and the international community are doing to remedy the problem and what still needs to be done to make sure perpetrators receive the justice they deserve and child trafficking victims receive the proper treatment and protections they need to move on.

How Child Trafficking Came to Greece

Even though human trafficking in general is a major international human rights issue that has been going on for decades, its arrival for Greece is fairly recent. Most studies and statistics trace the arrival of human trafficking to Greece around 2000. The actual extent of the amount of individuals trafficked into Greece over the past fifteen years is unknown, however statistics seem to show an amount of at least 20,000 a year to 90,000 between 2000 and 2010. The reason why scholars and special interest institutions that could help human trafficked victims in Greece aren't aware of the exact number of human beings trafficked into the country is because of human trafficking's clandestine nature. When you study phenomena like this that is criminal and clandestine, it is really hard to prove that the information you have, is the full extent of the truth. Therefore, scholars are prepared for the reality that the numbers of human trafficked individuals in Greece might be higher than the statistical data already received. Worse than that, even though we know which areas of human trafficking primarily include the numbers of children, data related to children isn't exactly clear either. All that we know, is that children are trafficked to Greece for various illicit purposes.

Individuals trafficked into Greece end up being used in the following areas: forced labor, adoption, and the illicit sex trade. What seems to be most common, is the trafficking of babies for adoption. Most of these children come from very poor families located in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, and other Balkan states, primarily of Roma origin. Normally, the women pregnant with these babies is single, yet conned by a man that the child is indeed his and he will take care of the baby. In actuality, the man is a member of a baby smuggling ring based in Greece, taking advantage of the adoption sector and the mother's impoverished state for the ring's own profit.

We know that children are trafficked into Greece for slave labor, primarily in the agricultural sector. Nonetheless, all we know is that 80,000 adolescents between the ages of fourteen and nineteen are working; on the other hand, the statistics doesn't demonstrate how many of these children are working as slaves. There is also a known number of 5,600 street children in Greece who sell items along the streets and clean cars to get by. The current statistics on child labor in Greece doesn't demonstrate where these children fit, nor is it known how many of them are related to the human trafficking problem, victims of Greece's economic downturn, or are being used by their parents to make money on their behalf. Even though Greece did outlaw begging and other street activities in 2003, this law doesn't seemed to be enforced, nor is there any punishment, except for child begging.

Young girls and in some cases, boys, are trafficked into Greece for the illicit sex trade. The exact numbers behind how many children, where they go, and what these groups who shanghai these children are like and how they operate, however we know it does occur. The Greek government does have laws that protect these children, as well as women who are trafficked into prostitution. Even though these laws and several other Greek authoritative actions have helped to reduce child trafficking, including child prostitution, it still hasn't been enough to rectify the problem.


How to Resolve Child Trafficking Issues in Greece?

The truth is that it will take a while for child trafficking to truly cease in Greece. The Greek government has created legislation that corresponds with the ILO, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and with EU regulations to combat against child trafficking. This, in return has helped. There are also very dedicated non-profits and NGOs working to assist children and stop the baby smuggling business along with its related black market adoption trade. Baby smuggling rings in Greece are being captured and put to justice.

However, there is a recorded 80,000 children working in Greece and 5,600 street children still. Even though we know the numbers of children related to child trafficking have dropped between 2003-2006, we're not sure of how much. The reason why is because the statistics taken on this subject aren't explicit enough-they only show the overall number, rather than break down how many of these children are working by choice, or are working as slaves. Furthermore, we aren't really sure of many of the street children in Greece are actually trafficked and/or members of an illegal gang, using them for begging. Therefore, in order to help resolve the issue of child trafficking in Greece, the international community will have to learn more about the issue through research, extensive field work, and elaborate the current statistical data on this issue.

Furthermore, even though the Greek government has laws to protect children who are abused and/or victims of child trafficking, it doesn't seem to be enough. The reason why seems to be credited towards Greece's complicated yet very bureaucratic government structure. This, therefore, as one non-profit head in Greece who is combating against the illicit adoption trade argued, bogs down the government's ability to properly enforce these laws and insure that children are properly protected from these acts. Therefore, in order for actual change to occur, it will take work from the grassroots level. This work will include the creation of specialized non-profits that will partner with the government and local law-enforcement to make sure that perpetrators are found and put to justice. Furthermore, non-profits and other members of the community, can help the victims of child trafficking in Greece find a place to live, and get the education and medical treatment they deserve.

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