Australia introduce law recognising orphanage trafficking is modern-day slavery

As western countries become increasingly actived in volunteering efforts or fundraising for orphanage institutions in mostly poor nations, a lucrative industry which capitalises on this generosity has been formed in these countires.

Children are being lured and drafted into these orphanages to attract volunteers from abroad, as an estimated 80% of children living in the world's orphanages have at least one living parent or relative, who could cater them.

To curb this new trend, Australia has introduced a new law which recognises the so-called orphanage trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery and includes an explicit reference to "trafficking and/or exploitation of children in orphanages" making it the first country in the world to do so.

"Australia is the first country in the world to recognise orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery," said Paul Ronalds of Save the Children Australia, a non-governmental lobby group.

Called the Modern Slavery Bill, it is hoped the action will make Australians taking part in volunteering schemes they partake in.

A report by ReThink Orphanages found more than 57% of Australian universities advertise orphanage placements, with 14% of Australian schools visiting, volunteering or fundraising for institutions abroad.

Earlier in the year, Australian Senator Linda Reynolds called orphan tourism the "perfect 21st-Century scam".

She told Reuters that foreign visitors were left with a "sugar rush" after apparently doing something good - and then sharing it on social media and failing to realise their "good deed" is fuelling an industry based on child exploitation in numerous countries around the world.

In South East Asia, orphanages in countries like Nepal and Cambodia houses children from poor backgrounds whose families hands them over to these institutions on promise of receiving good education, being well-cared for and well-fed.

But these children are used to raise money that often ends up in the pocket of the orphanage director.

According to the US State Department, "many orphanages use the children to raise funds by forcing them to perform shows for or interact and play with potential donors to encourage more donations".

Chloe Setter, a senior adviser on anti-trafficking and voluntourism at Lumos, a charity working to end the problem of children living in poor quality institutions, explained that even in the most well-meaning of orphanages, Lumos says children are often unable to thrive due to the institutional environment, harming their development.

"Australia's legislation will help to take orphanage trafficking out of the shadows and put it in the spotlight on the global stage," she said. "We now need other countries to adopt similar measures and ensure their own anti-slavery legislation protects against this heinous type of child trafficking.

"We welcome this important first step from the Australian government to tackle orphanage trafficking and we look forward to working with other countries to follow their lead."

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