All slavery, including child slavery, may have been officially outlawed in many places, but there are now more slaves in the world than ever before in history.1 Estimates vary, but one study says that between 2011 and 2018, almost 90 million people experienced some form of modern slavery.2 No country escapes the presence of slavery:
“Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Traffickers the world over continue to target women and girls. The vast majority of detected victims of trafficking are for sexual exploitation and 35 per cent of those trafficked for forced labour are female. Conflict further exacerbates vulnerabilities, with armed groups exploiting civilians and traffickers targeting forcibly displaced people.”3
How are children impacted by slavery?
Child slavery facts reveal that one in four victims of modern slavery are children.4 Child slavery often looks like forced labor. The International Labour Office (ILO) convention 182 defines it in more detail for our understanding. The examples they give are: the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, forced child soldiers, child prostitution, procuring a child for use in an illegal activity such as drugs, and more.5
These children are not just statistics. They have names. Twin brothers Aimamo and Ibrahim, 16, are good examples. They made the decision to migrate from Gambia, with the promise that their journey would be paid for in exchange for labor when they arrived in Libya. What they didn’t know was that they would be slaves there. Along with 200 other Africans, they worked hard on a farm where they suffered beatings and threats. At the end of long days, they were locked up so they could not escape.6
Refugees and unaccompanied children are most vulnerable to child slavery today.
Publishers of the Global Slavery Index said,
“In the chaos of conflict and violence, a perfect storm of lawlessness, slavery, and environmental destruction can occur—driving the vulnerable into slave-based work that feeds into global supply chains and the things we buy and use in our daily lives.”7
These migrants may find it difficult to get into their goal country, but someone comes along offering help. Instead of being helped, the migrant is tricked into a trafficking situation. For many, the fear of being deported keeps them from going to the authorities for help.
Orphanages can also be a target for traffickers.
Some orphanage operators withhold food and safe living environments to keep the children looking malnourished in order to get donations.8 These “paper orphans” are big moneymakers in Nepal, Cambodia, Ghana, Guatemala and Haiti.9
Other families fall into trafficking due to extreme poverty.
When parents can’t feed their children, selling them into what they think may be a better environment is tempting. The parents might be promised good working conditions for their kids, an education and food for them to eat. In many cases these are false promises, and the children enter horrible situations of abuse and neglect.
Through GFA World’s ministry, children and their families are given positive solutions to child slavery. Here are some examples:
- Child sponsorship – through child sponsorship, children and their families receive helpful items like nutritious food, school supplies, access to clean water, tutoring and basic healthcare. These items help relieve the parents’ financial stress, allowing the children to stay in school rather than be sent to the work force.
- Income-generating skills training – When parents learn a new skill, that skill can be monetized to help meet the needs of the family. For example, when a woman learns to use a sewing machine, she can now work as a tailor and sell her goods, increasing the income of the family.
- Helpful gifts like livestock or seeds – When a family has an additional income source, it can be lifechanging. Through GFA gift distributions, families can receive chickens and sell their eggs. Or they may receive goats that produce milk for the family to drink or to sell offspring at the market. These helpful gifts reduce the need for children to work.
- Literacy classes – When adults learn to read, their income potential increases. They are no longer relegated only to manual labor jobs but are qualified for jobs that make more money and are more fulfilling. Adults who can read are less likely to be taken advantage of in the market too, which helps the family’s financial situation.
Please join us in these missions to serve some of the poorest communities in Asia and Africa. We aim to keep children safe from trafficking and provide lasting solutions for families experiencing extreme poverty. What a joy to meet their physical needs and also share with them the eternal love of Jesus!
Learn more about these helpful solutions and consider a donation to an area that interests you.Learn more about causes of child labor
1 “21st Century Slavery & Human Trafficking.” GFA Special Report. 20 July 2018. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/21st-century-slavery-human-trafficking/#stories-statistics-solutions.
2 “Global Estimates of Modern Slavery.” ILO. 2017 Report. 2017. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf.
3 “Every Country in the World is Affected by Human Trafficking.” United Nations. Accessed 23 February 2022. https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-human-trafficking-day/background.
4 “Global Estimates of Modern Slavery.” ILO. 2017 Report. 2017. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf.
5 “C182 – Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention.” International Labour Organization. Accessed 23 February 2022. https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C182.
6 “Harrowing Journeys.” UNICEF. September 2017. http://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/media/1180/harrowing-journeys_children-and-youth-on-the-move-across-the-mediterranean.pdf.
7 “The Global Slavery Index 2016.” Accessed 23 February 2022. https://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/media/1073/globalplusslaveryplusindexplus2016.pdf.
8 “Modern Slavery Research: The UK Picture.” University of Nottingham Rights Lab. Accessed 23 February 2022. http://iascresearch.nottingham.ac.uk/ResearchingModernSlaveryintheUK.pdf.
9 “Orphanage Entrepreneurs: The Trafficking of Haiti’s Invisible Children.” LUMOS. Accessed 23 February 2022. https://bettercarenetwork.org/sites/default/files/Haiti.pdf.
* Cover Photo by Shagor Khan. https://flickr.com/photos/113504075@N05/16526574938/.