Category Archives: Stop Child Slavery

Bonded To Priests As Domestic And Sexual Servants – Trokosi

TrokosiThe following message came to me in an email a few days ago. “I am currently working on a film that deals with the little known system of bondage in Ghana, called Trokosi,” Christene Browne wrote to me. “Trokosi is a religious practice whereby young virgin girls are made slaves to shrines for offenses committed by a member of their family. To appease local gods, the girls are bonded to the priest of the shrine for life and become their domestic and sexual servants.”

Christene, via Syncopated Productions, is still seeking funds to finish Sena – A Film About Slavery. The film is based on the stories she was told during visits to Ghana. The film takes its name from the main character, Sena, whose dreams of being a nun are shattered when she is secretly sent off to a shrine to atone for a crime that she did not submit. The film tells the story of how she endures through numerous atrocities and inhumanities.

A short interview. I asked Christene if I could ask her a few questions to learn more about how she came to make the film, and what she hoped it would accomplish.

How did you first become aware of child slavery?

I first became aware  of Trokosi practice ( a form of child slavery) back in 2000 while I was visiting Ghana for the first time. There was a news report about the practice on a local TV station one night.

What surprised you most about your experience with child slavery?

What surprised me most about the practice was that it could  still exist in the present day  even in the face of some serious opposition/ legislation (It existed for centuries but had been criminalized in 1998.) The fact that the practice was/is sanctioned by many of the traditional religious practitioners was also very surprising. According to them the young girls were/are being sent to the shrines for educational purposes.

How did you first come into contact with a former Trokosi? 

After my first trip to Ghana – I returned home and applied for some research funding with CIDA ( Canadian International Development Agency). Before returning to Ghana I contacted a number of organizations and individuals who were doing work with the Trokosi. ( I had friend in Ghana helping)   My main contact was a man by the name of Elvis Adikah – who was in the midst of doing research on the practise. He was the one who put me in direct direct contact with former Trokosi – he also acted as my interpreter.

We travelled for about five weeks in the Volta region of Ghana to remote hard to reach villages- meeting young and older former Trokosi – and collecting testimonies. During this trip I was also able to visit some active shrines, meet with some of the priests of the shrines, some government officials, a number of NGO groups and some leaders in the African traditional religion movement. In one of the  active shrines, I met an older woman whose job was to oversee the Trokosi – she had been in the shrine for over 60 years. (She is featured in the research interview clip below)

My meetings with the former Trokosi took place in their homes and at so called rehabilitation centers.  The majority of the younger former Trokosi were at these rehabilitation centers where they were learning skills, like sewing, to help them better reintegrate into society.

There is a great stigma associated with former Trokosi – many people believe that they bring misfortunes - so reintegration is very difficult.

Why did you decide to make your film?

Ever since I  had the opportunity to meet and interview a number of former Trokosi , I felt compelled to tell their story. The stories that I heard were devastating and  touched me greatly.

What do you hope people will do as a result of watching the film?

I hope the film will spark a new debate about the practice and  bring the silent suffering of the Trokosi to the forefront. Giving a voice to the voiceless is something that I have done in many of my past projects. Ultimately I hope to inspire people to take decisive actions towards stopping this archaic system of bondage.

If you’ve read this far, I hope that you will help me in spreading the word about Christene’s film, Sena – A Story Of Slavery, or prehaps, even contributing to the completion of the film.

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Stop Child Slavery Year In Review

These are the posts and pages on StopChildSlavery.com that got the most views in 2010.

1

Human Trafficking of Children in the United States Fact Sheet January 2010
8 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

Two Little Girls – An Animated Story About Sex Trafficking March 2010
5 comments

3

Somaly Mam: Rescuing Sex Slaves July 2007
22 comments

4

Child Prostitution: Three Stories April 2007
4 comments

5

Pornography, Prostitution And Child Sex Trafficking: An Interview with Patrick A. Trueman July 2009
28 comments

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I Have A Dream – Martin Luther King

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This is the full audio of Martin Luther King’s amazing "I Have A Dream" Speech.

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Today The Goal Is Modern Slavery Awareness

Say something.

Here is story about slavery in the United States I mention in the video.

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A Crime So Monstrous: A Brief Reading

I have been writing about Child Slavery here at StopChildSlavery.com for a long time now. You’d think I’d be way beyond surprise at this point. I’m not. Benjamin Skinner’s book, “A Crime So Monstrous,” is surprising on many levels. As I began reading in earnest last night, waves of emotion came flooding over me and I was struck, once again, by how pervasive the problem of child slavery has become. Click on the image below for a reading from pages 10 and 11 of the book.
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ABC Tackles Child Slavery Issue

I am watching “How To Buy A Child In 10 Hours” on Nightline as I type this. It is consistent with everything I’ve seen in the course of writing this blog. The report, by Dan Harris, is focused on Haiti, which has over 300,000 children trapped in child slavery. As the story indicates, the irony is hard to miss. Haiti is an independent nation as a result of a slave rebellion that took place from 1791-1803.

This is a compelling story. Please watch it.

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What Does Modern Slavery Look Like?


Modern Day Slavery
“a case in Tulsa, where there was a guy who owned a welding company, who began experimenting with temp workers he imported from India. And decided that it would be a good idea to keep them on factory premises. So very quickly, things escalated into a situation where he was hiring an armed guard to sit outside of the factory, just to kind of remind them that it might not be such a great idea to leave.”
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Vote To Fight Slavery

Paste Magazine and Our Stage are helping make a difference.

Paste/Ourstage Donation Campaign

Modern-day slavery is a $32 billion industry and Not For Sale is dedicated to freeing the 27 million people this industry enslaves and enacting strategies to undercut both the supply and demand for slaves.

Over the next few months, each time someone registers to vote in the monthly competitions, OurStage will donate $2 to the Not For Sale Campaign. It couldn’t be any easier and the voting is actually fun!

Paste Magazine is responsible for tracking the amount of money to be donated. Sign up here to vote and help end slavery.

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There Are No Simple Solutions

Little Indian directed me to a few excellent sites that detail what India is doing on it’s own to combat child labor and child slavery issues. One of them, a report from the Indian Embassy, begins with this staggering fact:

There are more children under the age of fourteen in India than the entire population of the United States. The great challenge of India, as a developing country, is to provide nutrition, education and health care to these children.”

We here in the United States are unfamiliar with numbers that large. What the number indicates is that even if, as the report indicates, only 3.6% of the workforce is under 14, the resulting numbers will still be beyond our ability to comprehend.

The report intro continues with this statement:

While child labor is a complex problem that is basically rooted in poverty, there is unwavering commitment by the Government and the people of India to combat it. Success can be achieved only through social engineering on a major scale combined with national economic growth. International policies and actions, therefore, must support and not hamper India’s efforts to get rid of child labor.”

I would hope that the words on this blog and the resulting actions would support and not hamper India’s own efforts to combat child labor and child slavery.

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