Most children in orphanages are not orphans

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Orphanages have become a lucrative business in developing countries, leading to the trafficking of children to fill them

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Nov 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Millions of children around the world live in orphanages, but child rights experts say most are not orphans.

Orphanages have become a lucrative business in developing countries, attracting generous funding. This has led to the trafficking of children to fill them, according to charities Forget Me Not and Lumos.

The two charities, which will talk about orphan trafficking at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Trust Conference in London on Wednesday, are calling for an end to orphanages which they say cause immense harm to children.

Here are some facts:

– An estimated 8 million children live in orphanages and other institutions worldwide, but 80 percent are not orphans.

– Research shows orphanages harm children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.

– Institutionalisation of very young children has a similar impact on early brain development to severe malnutrition or maternal drug use during pregnancy.

– Young adults raised in institutions are 10 times more likely to fall into sex work than their peers, and 500 times more likely to take their own lives.

– Placing a child in an orphanage quadruples the risk of sexual violence.

HAITI

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