3 February, 2015 (Date Pending)

 

Trafficking is a hidden crime and its victims are mostly silent. This has proven to be true in cases of child trafficking in Hong Kong as the hiatus of information and data prevails. In its Concluding Observations, the UN CRC Committee noted the “lack of procedures to identify and support child victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking in Hong Kong […] The limited access to justice, shelter, medical services, psychological counseling and compensation for child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse under the national legislation in mainland China, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR.”1

 
The US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report2 refers to minor victims twice:

 

  • Apart from men and women teenage girls are trafficked to Hong Kong for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour.
  • Boys and girls are found in prostitution under the phenomenon of “compensated dating.”3

 
According to Zi Teng4 the most prevalent trend in trafficking for sexual exploitation in Hong Kong involves girls from China’s poor farming villages. These girls’ neighbours or “sisters” always make use of their low education level and the lack of awareness, and claim that they can earn very high salaries if they work as a sex worker in Hong Kong. The truth turns out to be completely different. Having been tricked, these girls must work because they owe significant sums of money to the “middle-man” who organizes travel to Hong Kong, a place to stay/work.

 
Offences Under Hong Kong Law Applicable To Children

 
Offences relating to the exploitation of children in Hong Kong for sex and labour are set out in The Crimes Ordinance, The Prevention of Child Pornography Ordinance, The Offences Against the Person Ordinance and the Employment of Children Regulations respectively.

 
Sexual exploitation offences (and related offences) are listed in the Crimes Ordinance:5
§. 129 Trafficking in persons to or from Hong Kong for the purpose of prostitution
§. 47 Incest by men
§. 48 Incest by women of or over 16
§. 123 Intercourse with girl under 13
§. 124 Intercourse with girl under 16
§. 126 Abduction of unmarried girl under 16
§. 127 Abduction of unmarried girl under 18 for sexual intercourse

§. 135 Causing or encouraging prostitution of, intercourse with, or indecent assault on, girl or boy under 16
§. 138A Use, procurement or offer of persons under 18 for making pornography or for live pornographic performances
§. 140 Permitting girl or boy under 13 to resort to or be on premises or vessel for intercourse
§. 141 Permitting young person to resort to or be on premises or vessel for intercourse, prostitution, buggery or homosexual act
§. 146 Indecent conduct towards child under 16

 

 The Prevention of Child Pornography Ordinance:6

 
§. 3(1) Prints, makes, produces, reproduces, copies, imports or exports child pornography
§. 3(2) Publishing child pornography
§. 3(3) Possessing child pornography
§. 3(4) Advertising child pornography

 
In addition, there are further sexual exploitation offences set out in the Crimes Ordinance that apply to children and adults:

 
§. 118 Rape
§. 118A Non-consensual buggery
§. 118B Assault with intent to commit buggery
§. 118D Buggery with girl under 21
§. 118G Procuring others to commit homosexual buggery
§. 118H Gross indecency with or by man under 21
§. 119 Procurements by threats
§. 120 Procurement by false pretenses
§. 121 Administering drugs to obtain or facilitate unlawful sexual act
§. 122 Indecent assault
§. 130 Control over persons for purpose of unlawful sexual intercourse or prostitution
§. 131 Causing prostitution
§. 132 Procurement of girl under 21
§. 134 Detention for intercourse or in vice establishment

 
The Offences Against the Person Ordinance7 also sets out various provisions relating to child abuse:

 
§. 26 Exposing child whereby life is endangered
§. 27 Ill-treatment or neglect by those in charge of child or young person
§. 39 Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
§. 40 Common assault
§. 42 Forcible taking or detention of person, with intent to sell him
§. 43 Stealing child under 14

 
Regarding the employment of children for labour, the Employment of Children Regulations8
makes it an offence to:

 
Regulation 4(1) Employ a child or cause or permit a child to be employed under the age of 13 years

 
Regulation 4(1) Employ a child in industrial undertaking

 
Regulation 6(2)(a) Employ a child in a, place where intoxicating liquor is sold or consumed, dance halls, gambling establishment, kitchen, hairdressing saloon or massage parlour.

 
If a child is not attending school without a reasonable excuse, the Permanent Secretary has the power to order attendance at primary school or secondary school.9

 
Special Protection

 
Child victims of trafficking need special protection. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child applies to Hong Kong and as such the best interests of the child should prevail.

 
Hong Kong’s child protection laws are as follows:
The Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance10 provides the Director of Social Welfare with the power to intervene for the protection of children for example taking a child in need of care or protection to a place of refuge or other appropriate places.11 This includes children who have been brought into or are being taken out of Hong Kong by force, threats, intimidation, false pretences or other fraudulent means.12

 
A child or juvenile in need of care or protection is defined as a child or juvenile “(a) who has been or is being assaulted, ill-treated, neglected or sexually abused; (b) whose health, development or welfare has been or is being neglected or avoidably impaired; (c) whose health, development or welfare appears likely to be neglected or avoidably impaired; or (d) who is beyond the control, to the extent that harm may be caused to him or to others.”13 Any person authorized in writing by the Director of Social Welfare or any police officer of the rank of station sergeant or above, may take the child who appears to be in need of urgent medical or surgical attention for treatment to a hospital.14

 
The Criminal Procedure Ordinance15 authorizes the use in court of video-recorded interviews with a child witness in some cases of sexual or violent offences.16 The court can also permit a child to give evidence via a live television link.17

 
Under the Evidence Ordinance,18 a child’s evidence in criminal proceedings shall be given unsworn and shall be capable of being used as corroborating evidence.19 The deposition of a child’s unsworn evidence may be taken as if that evidence had been given under oath in criminal proceedings.20

 

 

Physical, Psychological And Psychosocial Problems

 
Trafficking can have a severe and long-term impact on child victims. Children can suffer physical, psychological and psychosocial problems. Physical problems can include sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, forced abortions, malnourishment, dental problems, injuries, and various pains. Depression, loss of self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, anxiety are examples of psychological problems that can arise from a child trafficking experience. Children can also suffer from stigmatization by the family or community and loss of confidence in family/social relationships as a direct result of trafficking. In addition, trafficking has a hugely detrimental effect on the education of the child.

 
How To Interview A Child

 
When a trafficked child is rescued, the victim must first be brought to a safe environment and he/she must be provided with medical and psychological treatment as deemed necessary.

 
General guidelines of the interview:21

 

  • The interview should take place as soon as possible after the allegation or suspicion of abuse emerges.
  • Only specifically trained staff should interview the child. The child should feel supported and safe during the interview.
  • Create an age-appropriate space (i.e., have toys, props available).
  • Maintain a simple and informal atmosphere.
  • Use child-friendly language. All questions need to be developmentally and culturally appropriate.
  • The child should be given an opportunity to tell the story in his/her own way, before explicit questions are asked.
  • The questions should begin with open questions and direct or leading questions should be reserved for the later part of the interview.
  • Do not press for details when the child seems to have said it all.
  • The interview should not be too long to avoid tiring the child.
  • End the interview in a reassuring way.

 
Please note that younger children might not fully understand adult concepts, such as:22

 

  • Time and dates
  • Location (place, country, underneath, behind, above, in front of)
  • Duration
  • Frequency
  • Measurements (height, weight, age, size, distance)

 

Many of the interviewing strategies employed for young children are less effective with adolescents.23

 

 

  • Trying to clarify specific language can be a challenge if the adolescent feels the attempt at clarification is condescending. They often wish to be treated as adults and asking for clarification undermines that wish.
  • Adolescents are more prone to be volatile and emotional and this may be made worse by stress and traumatic memories.
  • Adolescents are dealing with profound hormonal changes. The power of hormonal influences should not be underestimated.
  • Adolescents may try to behave as adults and take on too much responsibility. They need to be allowed to develop gradually and to accept adult duties and responsibilities gradually. One should not be fooled by the false confidence displayed by many adolescents as this is often a coping mechanism and façade that hides trauma.

 

 

The Way Forward

 
There is a real need to understand the nature, trends and prevalence of child trafficking to/from Hong Kong and as such a comprehensive data collection system is necessary to ensure that the Government is able to harvest as much data as possible to inform future prevention, prosecution and victim protection strategies. Moreover, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the issue of trafficking in its various forms across schools and juvenile facilities in Hong Kong (including juvenile detention centres). There should be clear information on how to report sexual exploitation and where to access help. The Government must strengthen the existing infrastructure to improve its response to trafficked children’s multiple needs to gain access to secure housing, medical care, psychological support etc… Front line responders to children’s needs must receive the requisite training to enable them to respond appropriately to the complex needs of trafficked children.

 

 

End Notes:

 

1 UN CRC Committee, Concluding Observations on the combined third and fourth periodic reports of China (including Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions), adopted by the Committee at its sixty-fourth session (16 September – 4 October 2013), para. 44 (d) and (e).
2 US Department of State, Trafficking In Persons Report 2013.
3 Compensated dating usually means teenage students providing companionship or, in most cases, sexual favours in exchange for money or gifts that help improve their standard of living. http://www.timeout.com.hk/big-smog/features/44507/the-burning-issue-compensated-dating.html
4 Zi Teng is a Hong Kong based NGO, at http://www.ziteng.org.hk/2010MAY02_e.php.
5 Crimes Ordinance, Cap 200

6 Prevention of Child Pornography Ordinance, Cap 579
7 Offences Against the Person Ordinance, Cap 212
8 Employment of Children Regulations, Cap 57B

9 S. 74 and 78, Education Ordinance, Cap 279
10 Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance, Cap 213
11 S. 34E, Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance, Cap 213
12 S. 35, Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance, Cap 213
13 S. 34 (2), Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance, Cap 213
14 S. 34F, Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance, Cap 213
15 Criminal Procedure Ordinance, Cap 221
16 S. 79C, Criminal Procedure Ordinance, Cap 221
17 S. 79B, Criminal Procedure Ordinance, Cap 221
18 Evidence Ordinance, Cap 8
19 S. 4, Evidence Ordinance, Cap 8
20 S. 4, Evidence Ordinance, Cap 8

21 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Trafficking in Human Beings: Identification of Potential and Presumed Victims A Community Policing Approach, 2011, p. 75; Allison Turkel – Suzanna Tiapula, Strategies for Interviewing Child Victims of Human Trafficking, American Prosecutors Research Institute, National Center of Prosecution of Child Abuse, 2008, vol. 8, no. 5, p. 10; Barbara Mitchels, Let’s talk, Developing effective communication with child victims of abuse and human trafficking, UNMK/Government of Kosovo – UNICEF, 2004, p. 23.
22 Mitchels, supra note 21, at 25.

23 Turkel & Tiapula, supra note 21, at 10; Mitchels, supra note 21, at 47.

 

Sources

 

  • International Labour Organization (ILO), Roadmap for Achieving the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2016, The Hague Global Child Labour Conference 2010.
  • ILO-UNICEF-UN.GIFT, Training Manual to Fight Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation, Understanding Child Trafficking, Textbook 1, ILO, 2009.
  • Mitchels, Barbara, Let’s talk, Developing effective communication with child victims of abuse and human trafficking, UNMK/Government of Kosovo – UNICEF, 2004.
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE), Trafficking in Human Beings: Identification of Potential and Presumed Victims A Community Policing Approach, 2011.
  • Turkel, Allison – Tiapula, Suzanna, Strategies for Interviewing Child Victims of Human Trafficking, American Prosecutors Research Institute, National Center of Prosecution of Child Abuse, 2008, vol. 8, no. 5.
  • UN CRC Committee, Concluding Observations on the combined third and fourth periodic reports of China (including Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions), adopted by the Committee at its sixty-fourth session (16 September – 4 October 2013)
  • US Department of State, Trafficking In Persons Report 2013.

 

 

Table of Contents:

 

1. Definitions And Characteristics

2. Issues Surrounding Identification Of Victims Of Trafficking

3. Government Response To Human Trafficking

4. Actors Involved In The Identification Process And Their Likely Encounters With Victims

5. Identification Protocols And Questionnaires

6. Child Trafficking

7.  Support Services, Victim’s Charter Of Rights

8. Recommendations

9. Annex 1: Generic Exploitation Profiles

10. Annex 2: Training Kit

 

libertyasialogo

 

 

For further information, please contact:


Archana Sinha Kotecha, Liberty Asia

[email protected]

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