Author: Preyansi Anand Desai
I Year | The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
The “Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography” was adapted to the Convention on the Rights of the Children by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2000. As of December 2019, there are 176 member states to this Optional Protocol (OP). The two theme areas it covers relate to trafficking in children and sexual exploitation of children. It further seeks to safeguard the children from threats to their life and acts that deteriorate their health, social and economic status.
This protocol makes it essential for all the member states to criminalize and penalize child trafficking, child prostitution, and child pornography. Further, it requires states to establish criminal liabilities according to the individual state laws. The OP also mandates starting legal proceedings against offenders.
Violations of OP-II – Global Statistics:
Despite the wide ratification of the OP-II, the statistical data showing the exploitation of children is appalling. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than one-third of children are engaged in labour. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports that the agriculture sector accounts for more than two-thirds of all child labor. Young children are compelled to work on farms since the age of 5 too. 
The ILO has also reported that 980,000 to 1,250,000 children – both boys and girls have been put in forced labor. Data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) suggests that children represent more than 20% of the victims of all trafficking, both inside countries and across boundaries, while the 2006 U.S. Department of State Annual Trafficking in Persons Report states that this number is as high as 50 percent of the 600,000-800,000. 
Further, it is estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 have undergone forced sexual activity or other types of sexual harassment and exploitation including physical contact. In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 1.8 million children had faced sexual abuse. Lastly, sexual assault and harassment figures are broad estimates and should be viewed with caution.
Recommendations for India:
Even though important steps have been taken on an international level, efforts need to be made at the individual level. Therefore, the author believes that the Indian Government should make sex education compulsory, firstly. This will help children to respond to any wrong acts spontaneously and not panic during such situations.
Further, the judicial system must decide the cases within a particular time frame to provide timely justice. Additionally, the State Governments of India must monitor all the areas under their jurisdiction to avoid or stop these activities at a very initial stage.
Research and development in the health sector, according to the author, will also help children to have a healthy and fit life. Non-governmental organizations can also assume an important role in rescuing trafficked children and facilitating their rehabilitation.
There is an urgent need to combat malpractices. Immediate action is required to save the lives and rights of the children. All the member states have been taking some steps to combat child exploitation, but these have not proven to be enough. Therefore, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as agreed by all United Nations Member States in 2015, all of us must come together to eradicate child abuse, and make this world a safer place for children.
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Editor: Muskaan Aggarwal