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As a social problematic, child trafficking exploded onto the international scene in the late 1990s, a product of the union between the anti-child-labour and anti-trafficking movements. For the next 15 years, it became the defining child protection issue for a whole network of Northern donor agencies, Southern government departments, UN bodies, and a universe of nongovernmental organisations. It led to institutional interventions across the globe, carved multilateral channels through which billions of dollars flowed, and shaped (and in many cases seriously harmed) lives on every continent.

Although now somewhat supplanted by the catchall problematic of ‘modern slavery’, the concept of ‘child trafficking’ still carries some weight and has been targeted for eradication, alongside child labour, by the 8th Sustainable Development Goal. This entry looks at how ...

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