Overview – Child Slavery Today
- 27 million people worldwide are slaves.
- 8.4 million of them are children with the largest numbers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- 1.8 million children are forced into prostitution or pornography with the largest numbers in India, Brazil, Thailand and the Philippines.
- The average age of a girl forced into sexual slavery is 13.
- A girl in a brothel is forced to service up to 20 clients a day.
- Children as young as 5 years old are sold into sexual slavery and forced to work in brothels.
- Each year 1.2 million more children are forced into slavery. That’s over 3,000 a day.
- Child slaves are forced to work in prostitution, agriculture, domestic servitude, mines, rice mills, brick kilns, factories, rock quarries and as soldiers.
- Child slaves are often forced to work up to 15 hours a day.
- Human Trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry.
- Within 10 years human trafficking could be the largest criminal enterprise worldwide, surpassing both arms and drug trafficking.
- A slave costs an average of $90.
- The US Government spends $50 Million to fight human trafficking, while it spends $19 Billion to fight drug trafficking.
What is the difference between sweat shop labor and slavery?
As horrific as sweat shop labor is, individuals are still free to walk away. In cases of slavery; violence and power are used to prevent children from escaping their bondage.
How do children become slaves?
Some children are abducted, some are forced into marriage. Many young girls are forced to marry without choice, living as slaves and suffering severe physical and sexual abuse.
Some families willingly sell their children into slavery out of greed or ignorance of the horrific conditions a child must endure. Desperate and impoverished, they accept payment in advance which may be equivalent to a year’s salary. This is the most common way a 5 year old ends up in a brothel.
Other families fall victim to the lies of traffickers who promise their children will receive good care, an education and a paying job.
Once the traffickers lure the children away from their families, they sell them to brothels, to businesses that use forced labor, or as slaves to wealthy families. The children are kept under lock and key to prevent escape and to prevent the public from knowing of their existence. Often times, parents will never see their child again.
Slavery may be inherited. Perhaps a child needs medicine or some other difficulty arises. The parents may accept a loan and commit the whole family to work for the lender. In many cases, the lender provides only food and little or no money in exchange for the family’s labor. Though the loan may only be $20, the family is never able to pay it off because the lender charges an exorbitant interest rate or engages in fraudulent accounting.
Every family member, including children as young as 5 years of age, must work long hours each day. When the parents die, the children may inherit the debt, passing the slavery from generation to generation.
Through violence or threats of violence the lender is able to control the family.
Factors fueling the growth of slavery
A global population explosion has tripled the number of people in today’s world, especially in developing nations and among the poor and working classes. Because of illiteracy, lack of education and financial resources, this group is most vulnerable to becoming enslaved.
A profitable market. With the average slave costing only $90, the business of slavery is extremely profitable. In his book Disposable People by Kevin Bales, he details how the average brothel in Thailand makes almost a million dollars a year at the expense of 20 girls. Human trafficking has become a 32 billion dollar industry worldwide and is expected to surpass illegal drugs and weapons sales within 10 years.
Unenforced laws. Though virtually every nation has laws banning child slavery and bonded labor, those laws are difficult to enforce due to corruption among government officials or lack of education and advocacy. The slave owners control the system by bribing those in charge of enforcing the laws. For example, until very recently no one in Thailand had been convicted of slavery in the past 50 years.
A rise in global travel. In recent years, technology has made it easier and less costly to transport people across international borders. Organized crime networks are taking advantage of these technological and economic advances, making child trafficking a problem of global proportions.
Even a small donation to Free a Child can deter families from selling their children. A monthly donation of $20 is enough financial incentive for a family to keep children at home and at school.