Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Combating child abuse and trafficking: Register children at birth

Around 230 million children under five years of age have not been registered, meaning they do not officially exist and are more easily excluded, at best, from healthcare and education systems. At worst, invisibility means that can fall prey to child trafficking rings and become trapped in pornography, prostitution and organ harvesting networks.

Statistics released by UNICEF reveal that globally in 2012 only forty per cent of babies were registered at birth, the lowest indices being recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia and globally, only one in seven children has a birth certificate. Without proper documentation, children can be excluded from public services and are more easily rendered victims of abuse and exploitation.

The scale of human trafficking and abuse is shocking: there are some 40 to 42 million people worldwide trapped in prostitution rings, most of these young women and children. Prostitution is also just one of the living hells that defenseless children can be trapped in. Other areas are child pornography - a multi-billion-dollar business, while the kidnapping or children or young adults for purposes of harvesting of tissues or organs, surrogacy or exploitation (sexual or otherwise) is worth some 32 billion USD a year.

Without proper documentation, it is easier for a child (and later, a young adult) to become invisible to the authorities and apart from the horrors mentioned above, they can they fall prey more easily to wanton acts of brutality and cruelty.

The numbers released in UNICEF's report on its 67th anniversary are difficult to comprehend: there are some 230 million children under five years of age who have not been registered - according to UNICEF that represents one in three children, meaning in turn that one third of the world's children do not exist officially - and are therefore more in danger of being exploited. They can more easily fall victims to child trafficking and illegal adoption rings.

The report Birth Registration - Right from the Start (*) claims that only 60 per cent of the babies born in 2012 were registered - meaning that forty per cent were not. In some countries, the figure is far lower: Somalia (3%), Liberia (4%), Ethiopia (7%), Zambia (14%), Chad (16%), UR Tanzania (16%), Yemen (17%), Guinea-Bissau (24%), Pakistan (27%), DR Congo (28%).

The report claims that the unregistered children "have no birth certificate, the 'membership card' for society that should open the door to a whole range of other rights including education and health care, participation and protection".


And how much does Humankind spend on weaponry - machines to kill each other? One point seven thousand trillion USD a year. Let this be the epitaph of our genrations for those to come, and let them judge us by it.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey