One of the most devastating aspects of the sex trade and human trafficking is that children are routinely the victims. Now, a crisis affecting the lives of children in Somalia is taking place. Somali children are being recruited by the al-Shabaab insurgent group to fight for domestic service in the conflict that has been occurring since 2010.
Raiding homes and schools, al-Shabaab targets children as young as 10 years old for recruitment, forced marriage and rape. Young boys are forced into the fighting, often used as human shields for older, more experienced fighters or coerced into becoming suicide bombers. Girls are abducted as brides for much older fighters or simply raped.
Human Rights Watch has also charged Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union Forces (AMISOM) with using children as soldiers and shields, failing to protect children associated with the fighting and failing to prevent schools from attack.
Escape for these children is out of the question. Children who try to escape face severe consequences – often death. A Human Rights Watch report of the crisis was based on interviews of survivors and 21 children who had successfully escaped.
Children are the most vulnerable victims – which is why they are so often targeted by militant factions and sex traffickers. One of the most important ways Anchal works to help end the sex trade is by focusing a large portion of the resources for education. Through education, women are given other options for themselves and their children. Children are shown by example that there are other ways to support themselves, and have the experience necessary to find that way.