7 Shocking Truths about Slavery in 2015 – Part 4

In the fourth installment of this seven-part series on slavery, you will be enlightened in the realities of current practices of child slavery.


Child Slavery: Missing Childhood for Nothing

While it is right to be outraged by the nearly 21 million victims of slavery in the world, those who are below the age of 18 can provoke even greater fury. According to a recent report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the estimated number of children in the enslaved population has grown from 27% in 2012 to 33% in 2014. These are the most vulnerable of our population who, in a healthy environment, are dependent on the adults in their life to empower them to grow into productive members of society. Instead, millions are being denied that opportunity because they live as victims of slavery.

A comprehensive study has found children to be exploited through the international sex trade as well as agriculture, manufacturing industries ranging from large-scale sweatshops to small-scale workshops, mining, and fisheries. Girls, particularly, are enslaved in domestic labor situations. Both girls and boys are recruited into militias to serve as soldiers, cooks, and couriers, with girls also providing sexual services for adult combatants. Additionally, children are used to help carry out crimes from begging and pick-pocketing to burglaries and drug dealing.

While some forms of child slavery are obvious, others walk the line between duty and exploitation when it comes to providing additional income for their families. GHNI leaders teaching villagers the concepts of Transformational Community Development (TCD) often encourage whole families to be involved in the income generation projects such as family gardens or small businesses. It is a chance for the children to appreciate the value of hard work and dedication while empowering them to be a part of the solution to their extreme poverty. However, such work is encouraged to be done within healthy limits outside of school hours and is not what the International Labour Organization refers to as “Child Labour”:

“The term ‘child labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” 

Child labor involves mental, physical, social, or moral danger or hard work. It interferes with their schooling by depriving them of an education or requiring both long hard hours of work and school attendance. Since education for children is a primary goal of TCD, villagers who are especially vulnerable to being lured into slavery are trained in the value of education as well as empowering parents in sustainable forms of income generation to avoid putting their children at risk.

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Connect with the whole 7 Shocking Truths of Slavery in 2015 series.