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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                                                                      

Independent State of

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 75% of the population. Mineral deposits, including copper, gold, and oil, account for nearly two-thirds of export earnings.

A consortium led by a major American oil company hopes to begin the commercialization of the country's estimated 227 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves through the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility by 2010. The project has the potential to double the GDP of Papua New Guinea.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Papua New Guinea.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


The long road toward juvenile justice in Papua New Guinea

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, WEWAK Papua New Guinea, 7 December 2005

[accessed 3 July 2011]

During his arrest for shoplifting Michael was shot in the leg by a police officer. “On the way to the police station, while I lay wounded from the gunshot, they beat me with their weapons and with broken bottles,” says Michael, who points to a scar on his face, near his eye. “They cut me here. I thought they were going to kill me.”

He was held in detention for three months and never received any medical attention. “The other boys held in the cells helped me,” he says. “I was bleeding a lot. They cleaned my wounds. Then two strong boys held me down. They used a knife and fork to take out the bullet from my leg while I screamed.”

Making Their Own Rules - Police Beatings, Rape, and Torture of Children in Papua New Guinea [PDF]

Human Rights Watch,  September 2005 -- Vol. 17, No. 8 (C)

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 July 2011]

[accessed 27 December 2016]

[p.6] SUMMARY - According to victims and eyewitnesses, police typically beat individuals at the moment of arrest, during the time they are transported to the station, and often at the station itself.  Beatings are so routine that police make little or no attempt to hide them, beating children in front of the general public and international observers. A man who said police beat him and forced him to fight naked with other detainees in a police station when he was sixteen or seventeen years old noted: “We thought it was their job and we just had to accept it.” Although police violence is endemic and adults described similar experiences, children’s particular vulnerability and the assumption that boys and young men are “raskols”—members of criminal gangs—make children especially easy targets.

[p.47] POLICE ABUSE OF ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE PERSONS - Although anyone arrested is at risk of violence, police appear to target those who are the least powerful and most stigmatized, including sex workers, boys and men who engage in homosexual conduct, and street vendors.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor [PDF]

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2006

[accessed 15 December 2010]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Education is not compulsory or free in Papua New Guinea.  As of 2001, 69 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade five.  In rural areas, the lack of access to schools reportedly contributes to low enrollment.

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - Any work by children between the ages of 11 and 16 must not interfere with school attendance.  Children perceived as gang members, street vendors, child sex workers and boys engaged in homosexual conduct are subjected to police violence.

Human Rights Reports » 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 10 February 2020]

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] Work by children between the ages of 11 and 16 must not interfere with school attendance.

Priest wants more care given to needy children

[Last access date unavailable]

A Catholic priest in Lae has called for more attention and care to be given to orphans and street kids.  Fr Arnold Smith said many of these children do not know where to seek help and was most vulnerable to all forms of ills in society today.

“The number of children out there on the streets is increasing, and it is now time to do something,” Fr Arnold said.  Many of these children can be seen collecting empty bottles or doing other odd jobs to earn a living. They end up sleeping in front of shops or on the pavements.  Past and recent surveys have shown that many of these children were either from poor families or have been abandoned by parents who had either moved away or have died from AIDS.  Speaking on behalf of We Care, the foundation for Women and Children at Risk, Fr John Glynn pointed out that children were “always hungry for affection” because they had been denied family support.

Slavos set up street kids project

Bonnie Abola

[accessed 3 July 2011]

[accessed 27 December 2016]

The escalating number of street children under the age of 15 in Lae means there will be more children not attending school when the academic year begins at the end of the month.  Major Sere Kala of Salvation Army of North Coastal Division headquarters said there was a growing number of street children from the settlements outside the city begging for a living in the city’s main business areas.  He said in the last three years, the Salvation Army in Lae had been rehabilitating the unfortunate youths, but this year there would be an inclusion of children from 8-15 years in their Street Level Ministry.

Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All - Papua New Guinea

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO, Bangkok

[accessed 3 July 2011]

The population is very young, with 50 per cent under the age of 18. The major factors contributing to the increase in street children are domestic violence, family breakdown, parental unemployment, urban migration, political and economic instability of the government, and peer influences. Moreover, natural disasters causing large losses of lives, displacement of families, and the destruction of crops and property, has also led to an increase in the number of children living and working on the streets in Papua New Guinea.

A major challenge in Papua New Guinea is that there are no government policies directly addressing the situation of street children. Other major challenges include the lack of government support, lack of resources, and a lack of effective coordination and support between NGOs and government agencies.

Consortium for Street Children - Papua New Guinea

Consortium for Street Children

[accessed 3 July 2011]

Street children in Papua New Guinea are defined as children who join their friends on the streets (majority); children who work on the streets and return home; children who work and live on the streets; and young girls engaged in prostitution. 1997 and 2000 studies revealed: more street children in the capital than other centres; more male children (95%) were engaged in street activities than females (5 %); very young children – 5 years old - were involved in street activities; most street children were originally from centres other than the ones in which they were living.

Information about Street Children – Papua New Guinea [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for East and South East Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 12-14 March 2003 – Bangkok, Thailand

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 July 2011]

CONSTRAINTS AND CHALLENGES - Street children are a recently emerging phenomenon. There are no government policies that directly address the situation of children living and working on the street. Lack of government support and limited irregular resource allocation impedes CRC implementation. Young children are forced / bullied by older children to commit crimes under threat of abuse. The negative legacy of the Structural Adjustment Programme has produced economic instability. Limited resources available for feeding or other support programmes. The situation is further exasperated by a lack of proper coordination and support between NGOs and government agencies.

Police Violence, Including Rape and Sexual Assault

Human Rights Watch Report: Violence Against Girls in Conflict with the Law

[accessed 3 July 2011]

The cops came and got the girls one by one. There were five guys. There were five girls so they each had one for themselves. One came to me. I was crying and said, “You guys hit me already.” . . . The same guy who hit me wanted to take me out. I said, “You have already belted me around so how can I go?” He booted me on the ass and slapped me. He pushed me. I had a lump on my back and bruises on my bum.

After that, they took the other four out. They did whatever they wanted to do with them. . . There was moonlight. It was on the dirt. It was right in front of me. I could see through the window. It was forcible. The others had injuries from where they were belted—they had bruises on their bums and where they were forced to have sex.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children – Papua New Guinea",, [accessed <date>]