Child Exploitation in Mozambique

Child Exploitation in MozambiqueHuman trafficking has exploded into a global epidemic in the past decade. While this horrible injustice is propagated upon innocents in nearly every corner of the globe, children in the nation of Mozambique in particular are being preyed upon in epic proportions. Sadly, thousands of orphans in Mozambique have no place to call home, no one to protect them, and no safe refuge. They eventually end up on the streets all alone with no real protection, becoming perfect candidates for human traffickers, brothel owners and evil men and women to exploit them.

The problem
Mozambique has had a turbulent and violent past. From 1964 to 1975 the country experienced a devastating civil war between the indigenous Mozambicans and the Portuguese who had colonized the land. By 1975, Mozambique became an independent nation, but not without much bloodshed. An estimated 1 million people perished during this time, 1.7 million Mozambicans were forced to flee to neighboring countries as refugees, and several million more were internally displaced. In addition, a mass exodus of Portuguese nationals took place. The country was completely decimated economically and politically. Today, Mozambique is regarded as one of the poorest countries in the world and continues to struggle socioeconomically with no solid infrastructure yet to be established.

In addition, HIV/ AIDS has taken its toll on Mozambique. According to UNICEF, 11.5 percent of Mozambicans between the ages of 15-49 have contracted HIV/AIDS. The disease has left approximately 670,000 children orphaned.This is a massive number of children added to the already staggering orphaned population, bringing the total to 2.1 million orphans in Mozambique.

Normally, extended family members would care for orphaned children. However, with the spread of HIV/AIDS, the extended family unit either does not exist or is stretched beyond capacity to support extra children, leaving orphans to look after themselves. Tragically, these orphans often are forced to the streets to survive.

Mayke Huijbregts – Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF Mozambique says this of orphaned children, “I am most worried about the lack of love and family affection that far too many children experience. So many of them are neglected and abandoned on the streets to fend for themselves and many children are at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse.

Standing in the gap
Destiny Rescue – an international Christian based non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and restoring children from sexual slavery and abusive situations realized the need to do something to help these precious children. Just this year, the organization rescued three Mozambican boys from sexual exploitation and sexual slavery. One of the boys, just ten years old, had been tied up in a warehouse. Both of his parents had died and he was living on the streets in a village taking care of himself. One day, a man approached him and said he could take him to his extended family to reunite them. The child, believing his life was about to change for the better, went with him. The man lied. Instead, he took the boy far away from anything familiar, tied him up in a warehouse and was preparing to sell him into the commercial sex-trade. While the man was away in town, the boy started screaming for help and someone overheard him. A person came and untied him and eventually news got to Destiny Rescue about the boy’s situation. Now this child is in Destiny Rescue’s care being healed and given a chance at a brighter future.

The US Bureau of International Labor Affairs states that “Mozambique is a source, destination and transit country for child trafficking. And children are trafficked internally and to South Africa and Swaziland for commercial sexual exploitation.”

In the same report, the US Bureau of International Labor Affairs said, “verbal, physical and sexual abuse is common in schools; it is also common for teachers to demand sex as a condition for advancement to the next grade. For many children, especially girls, this type of abuse leads to withdrawal from school.”

Take a stand
These Mozambican kids need our help; they need us to be a voice on their behalf, to stand in the gap for them. They need us to take action and put an end to their suffering. The Bible says, “Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:6-7).

Calling all neighbors
If these kids are going to have a chance at a better tomorrow, it will take ordinary people like us that will be a neighbor to them. Will you prayerfully consider doing something today? Will you move beyond indifference to action?
For tangible ways to get involved, check out these organizations working in Mozambique:

World Vision –
Helping poverty stricken, needy children through child sponsorship program – worldvision.org

Destiny Rescue
Rescues children from sexual slavery/ human trafficking and provides restoration and aftercare. They also help at-risk kids too. Child sponsorship available – destinyrescue.org

Compassion International
Reaching out to children in desperate need, offering child sponsorship to those who want to help – compassion.com

Cory Nickols is a freelance writer, and serves full-time with Destiny Rescue in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Cory can be reached at [email protected]

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