End the trafficking of children into institutions
At least eight million children live in orphanages and other institutions across the world. More than 80% have at least one living parent and, with the right support in place, most of them could live with their family. Children are commonly separated from their families because of poverty, discrimination, a lack of access to health and education, or because of war, disaster and migration.
Eighty years of research proves that separating children from families and raising them in orphanages seriously harms their health, development and future life chances. Research demonstrates that some institutions in ‘destination countries’ may be set up simply to receive donations or to provide volunteering experiences for wealthy travellers. Traffickers can view this as a business and actively recruit children to fill ‘orphanages’, often by deceiving or coercing vulnerable parents.
By continuing to support orphanages, volunteers, faith groups, businesses and other donors are- despite their good intentions - inadvertently perpetuating an outdated model of care for children. This generous time and money could instead be utilised to help keep families together or to help children out of institutions, where they can face the risk of exploitation and trafficking.
Allies in many corners of the globe want to build global partnerships to redirect well-intended volunteering and financial support away from orphanages to alternatives that strengthen communities and keep families together. We wish to work alongside care innovators, businesses and supporters of orphanages to promote alternatives that instead champion family and community services. Alongside this, we need to improve legislation and policy in key ‘sending countries’, such as the UK and Canada, to eradicate orphanage tourism activities and products in business supply chains. We also want to strengthen laws in countries where orphanage trafficking occurs, such as Uganda and Kenya, so this form of modern slavery can be successfully prosecuted.
What help is needed
• Connections to businesses that want to assess their activities and are willing to work with care innovators to transition to, and promote, family and community services
• Civil society partners and financial supporters who are committed to ending child institutionalisation
• Pro bono legal support to help us improve law and policy in key countries