Combating Child Trafficking With Radio

November 22, 2004 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Serial Dramas, Radio Serial Dramas, Africa, Burkina Faso, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, News

Shelburne, VTPopulation Media Center-West Africa (PMC) began airing its radio serial drama Cesiri Tono (“All the Rewards of Courage and Hard Work”) on Thursday, November 11, 2004 over the Africa Learning Channel.

Written in the local languages of Dioula and Bambara, Cesiri Tono will address child trafficking and exploitation issues in the three countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. The program is supported by a grant from USAID.

UNICEF estimates that as many as 200,000 children in West and Central Africa alone are smuggled across national borders every year to provide forced labor in neighboring countries. This does not include children that are sold or traded within their own countries. Boys are often used as farmhands or for physical labor, while girls are trafficked as sexual slaves or domestic servants

Contrary to popular opinion, however, the children that are trafficked are not kidnapped by malevolent strangers. In the majority of cases, parents “give” their children to distant relatives or people with connections to their village, in the hopes of providing them a better life. They are often unaware of the harsh working conditions that their children will face.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that the majority of trafficked children come from rural, poorly educated families with more than five children. Thus, PMC’s radio serial drama, Cesiri Tono, will show how unplanned childbearing can lead to poverty and, in turn, to child exploitation. Additionally, the PMC program will describe in graphic detail the harsh reality of the working conditions to which children are subjected. Most importantly, the PMC program will show how family planning can help families to break the cycle of poverty that can lead to the exploitation of children.

The drama, distributed via WorldSpace satellite, will be broadcast three times a week in Mali and Burkina Faso by community radio stations and government radio. Stations in Ivory Coast will begin broadcasting the program, as soon as the situation of civil unrest stabilizes.

Population Media Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the stabilization of human population numbers at a level that can be sustained by the world’s natural resources and to lessen the impact of humanity on the earth’s environment. Its work emphasizes the benefits of small families, elevation of women’s status, promotion of gender equity and encouragement in the use of effective family planning methods.

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