The Year Ten Australian Curriculum gives teachers the opportunity to explore some of the big issues facing the globe today. In Unit One these issues are environmental: loss of biodiversity, pollution, land degradation, water diversion and climate change. In Unit Two the focus moves to social issues such as inequalities in wellbeing, conflict, gender inequity and access to clean water, sanitation and adequate food.
Both units require teachers to select a range of case studies at several scales to illustrate the broader issue and to examine in detail the impact of global challenges on local communities and places. We believe that a study of the development issue of human trafficking and, more specifically, child trafficking in Thailand, fits the requirements of a case study of a development issue in Unit Two well.
Child trafficking is a global phenomenon. The United Nations estimates that about 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. This is part of the larger human trafficking industry in which people are sold into slavery. There are at least 30 million people currently living in slavery, the largest number at any time in history. In Thailand, many children are trafficked from countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia and forced to work as beggars, sex slaves and labourers in industries such as fishing and manufacturing.
Child trafficking is rare in Australia although several cases of children trafficked from Thailand to work in Australian brothels have been prosecuted in Australian courts. This does not mean, however, that Australians are not involved in child trafficking. The Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2008 that almost 100,000 Australian men travel to Thailand each year for the purpose of sex. It also reported that the average age for a girl entering the Thai sex industry to be 14 and that most girls are aged between 12 and 16. The article states that ‘this results in children being either kidnapped or sold into the trade, either knowingly or unwittingly, by their families.’
Teaching about the sex trade does not suit all school communities so ZFA has used the case study of a Burmese girl who has been forced to work in a begging ring in the lesson plans. Students follow her story from her kidnap in Myanmar through her experiences in Thailand and her eventual repatriation to her family. This is based on an actual case although some of the details have been changed to protect her identity.
UNIT DESCRIPTION: Child Trafficking Curriculum
‘Geographies of human wellbeing focuses on investigating global, national and local differences in human wellbeing between places. This unit examines the different concepts and measures of human wellbeing, and the causes of global differences in these measures between countries. Students explore spatial differences in wellbeing within and between countries, and evaluate the differences from a variety of perspectives. They explore programs designed to reduce the gap between differences in wellbeing. These distinctive aspects of human wellbeing are investigated using studies drawn from Australia, India and across the world as appropriate.’