Australia now sees the act of falsely inducing children into orphanages as a form of slavery, in what is believed to be the first legislative move of its kind in the world.
Amid warnings that children in poor countries are being shipped into the institutions to meet the lucrative demand for western volunteerism, a new law has been introduced to tackle the issue.
The Modern Slavery Bill was passed by both houses of parliament on Thursday and includes an explicit reference to “trafficking and/or exploitation of children in orphanages.”
Under the new law, so-called “orphanage trafficking” will be treated as a slavery and trafficking offense.
More than 8 million children live in orphanages globally but about 80% of these children have family who could care for them if they had the right support. #rethinkorphanages #changevolunteering
— Save the Children Australia News (@SaveAusNews) November 29, 2018
“Australia is the first country in the world to recognize orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery,” said Paul Ronalds of Save the Children Australia, a non-governmental lobby group.
It is estimated that around 80 percent of the eight million children in orphanages worldwide have parents or family who could take care of them.
Sometimes children are sent away, with their parents believing they will get a good education.
According to Save the Children, more than 50 percent of Australian universities advertised orphanage placements as a volunteering opportunity overseas.
Activists hope the legal change will cause Australians to more carefully vet where they volunteer overseas.
Australia becomes the first country in the world to recognise ‘orphanage trafficking’ as a form of modern slavery https://t.co/3WcSqgipbS pic.twitter.com/xFzwErJsVM
— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 30, 2018