Child Slavery Today – What Does It Look Like?
Child slavery today takes on many forms. It may be the child bride, forced to wed as a girl or teen, or the child forced to mine cobalt for hours every day. The examples are endless, but the victims are real. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations says,
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime happening all around us. The victims—30% of which are children—are subject to forced labour, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse. We must do more to bring criminals to justice, and help victims rebuild their lives.”1
Here are some modern forms of child slavery:
Orphanage Slavery – Some orphanages actively recruit children from families, or parents may willingly send them to “orphanages” to access promised services.2 Some of these orphanages are largely scams that attract money from charities or well-meaning individuals. The children are left malnourished as a way of receiving more income and attracting orphanage tourism.
Migration Slavery – Refugee and migrant children are at a high risk for child trafficking and slavery. A study by the Antislavery Commissioner studied two common, yet dangerous, routes that migrants take to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.3 Migrants and refugees navigate dangerous environments and also risk being trafficked in the process. While they are trying to escape from harm in their home country, they risk a new source of harm in the process. Smugglers and traffickers take advantage of their vulnerabilities. Children often fall prey to abuse, violence and sexual exploitation.
Online Predators – Slavery is occurring in developed countries as well. One of the most common forms comes from online predators who scour the web looking for children to exploit.
Relief-aid Helpers – In Asia, there is a trend for traffickers to pretend to be relief workers. This was prevalent during the 2015 Nepal earthquake recovery efforts.4
Organized Crime – INTERPOL, the international police agency, says the Covid pandemic “has not blunted the determination of organized crime groups to prey on the vulnerable and make a profit from these crimes, which all too often cost the victims their lives.”5
Sports & Agriculture – Some trafficking is in plain sight. You may see victims working in agriculture or playing on sports’ teams. According to the U.S. State Department report, “Within Europe’s soccer industry alone, it is estimated there are 15,000 human trafficking victims each year.”6
Domestic Servitude – Children leave their homes to live with others with the promise of being well cared for. Instead, they are enslaved and forced to perform cleaning responsibilities with little or no pay. They have no freedom to leave.
Sex Trafficking – Children and adults are forced to perform sexual acts and not allowed to escape from the situation.
GFA World provides positive alternatives to families who are struggling in extreme poverty. These effective solutions keep children safe and more likely to remain in school. Children are taught about trafficking and how to stay safe. Consider supporting these solutions today.Learn more about child slavery
1 “Trafficking in Persons Report, 20th Edition.” USA Department of State. June 2020. https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf.
2 “Orphanage Entrepreneurs: The Trafficking of Haiti’s Invisible Children.” LUMOS. Accessed 23 February 2022. https://bettercarenetwork.org/sites/default/files/Haiti.pdf.
3 “Harrowing Journeys.” UNICEF. September 2017. http://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/media/1180/harrowing-journeys_children-and-youth-on-the-move-across-the-mediterranean.pdf.
4 “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.
5 “INTERPOL Assesses Covid 19’s Effect on Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking.” Security. 12 June 2020. https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92593-interpol-assesses-covid-19s-effect-on-migrant-smuggling-and-human-trafficking.
6 “Trafficking in Persons Report, 20th Edition.” USA Department of State. June 2020. https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf.
* Cover Photo by Shagor Khan. https://flickr.com/photos/113504075@N05/16526574938/.