Recruitment Patterns of Child Trafficking in Madagascar: An Analysis Based on Missing and Recovered Children

Jérôme Ballet & Augendra Bhukuth - Journal of Human Trafficking

While there is a good amount of trafficking research that focuses on Africa, much of the research has greatly neglected child trafficking and its traits within the borders of a particular country. The goal of this article is to take stock of the child trafficking situation within Madagascar’s borders. This article examines the impact of supply-and-demand factors on child trafficking in Madagascar and discusses the approaches that should be used in the implementation of anti-trafficking policies.

The article begins with the discussion of Palermo Protocol and the difficulties of gauging child trafficking.  It mentions how children are often sold many times over in many different circumstances. The research in this article is the first to explore the issues and problems faced in Madagascar. Many studies have highlighted trafficking and propose practices in Africa. No attempt has been made to draw a precise typology. This research builds a typology in the case of Madagascar.

The article then reviews previous literature on Madagascar. The study notes the U.S. Secretary of State’s Trafficking in Persons report which stresses that corruption is such that even proven cases of customers using children who have been prostituted do not lead to prosecution.  The study points out that the first thing that needs to be combatted in Madagascar is corruption.

In conducting the study, researchers asked each participant to relate their experiences of cases where missing children had been found. A total of 30 cases were discussed, averaging out at around two cases per focus-group participant: 16 involved boys and 14 involved girls. Three different trafficking categories were identified: a) children placed elsewhere directly by their parents or guardians; b) children placed with an intermediary by their parents; and c) children who were neither placed by their family nor entrusted to an intermediary and included children who had either run away from home or were abandoned and then “picked up” by someone intending to exploit them.

The study concluded that efforts to combat the modern-day form of slavery that is child trafficking have to date failed to eradicate the activity. It pointed out that Madagascar has made progress in recent years, despite the corruption that hinders real progress on the ground. Local fostering practices fuel trafficking. By changing social perceptions of the risks associated with traditional practices, Madagascar would be reasonably able to combat trafficking. Awareness campaigns among the population are a necessary path to progress. That article notes children who run away from home also represent an important source for child trafficking. The authors emphasize the importance of changing family practices.