Category Archives: child slavery

Child Slavery Alive And Well In The UK

An undercover reporter was offered several children for sale by their parents in Nigeria: two boys aged three and five for £5,000, or £2,500 for one, and a 10-month-old baby for £2,000. Teenage girls – including some still pregnant – were willing to sell their babies for less than £1,000.

I don’t care how many times I read these stories, the shock of it never goes away. This is pure evil.  Some of the Nigerian traffickers are making upwards of  £6,000 per week selling children. The fact that there are traffickers selling up to 500 children per year means there is a willing market on the other end. It sickens me.

Watch this video about the new slave trade.

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GAP Admits To Child Slavery In Indian Factory

GAP Admits To Child Slavery In Indian FactoryI know many Western readers will shy away from this report.

The Gap just scream “America.” To accept the truth of retailers like Gap’s support of global child slavery would require a change in behavior. And that makes us uncomfortable. We want to believe all is right in the world. All is not right in the world.

Even though the Gap was quick to issue a halt to production in the factory in question and call a meeting to reinforce their “no-tolerance” policy regarding child labor, the actions ring hollow to me. So does their assertion that they were unaware that the clothing was being subcontracted to sweatshops using child labor. “Everyone knows factories in Shahpur Jat use child labor – it’s an open secret,” say Puja Sahu, owner of a fashionable boutique in the are where the sweatshop was found. [Time.com]

The continued quest for cheap labor all but requires that America companies turn a blind eye toward human rights violations. It’s impossible for them NOT to understand what is going on in order to reap such low prices. It’s estimated that more than 2o percent of India’s economy is dependent on children. 20 percent!

So, turn away if it makes you feel better. But the truth is clear. American retailers are funding major child labor violations and enabling child slavery. And none of my words on this screen will make a bit of difference. Corporations only respond to damage to their wallets.

Here are links to others writing on this story.

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Every State Should Have Criminal Trafficking Statutes

Only 27 states have criminal trafficking statutes.

In Ohio, for example, there are no laws against human trafficking. Law enforcement officials are only able to exact justice if other crimes, like rape or assault are involved. Federal law prohibits human trafficking, but many states are left with holes in their ability to combat these crimes themselves.

I’m left scratching my head. Really?  

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400,000 Children Working In Inidan Cotton Fields

When you read the Hindustan Times, the numbers aren’t easily discerned. Today, the headline reads, Four Lakh Children Slogging In Cotton Fields: Report. To a US reader, the word “lakh” may seem like the name of a province. But a lakh is not an area of India. A lakh is equal to 100,000. It’s a large number. Too large.

Based on the field research done by Glocal Research, the report said that out of the total number of children involved in child labour in the cotton industry, 2.25 lakh are below the age of 14.

The report also said that the children are made to work for 8 to 12 hours with a paltry earning of Rs 20 to 30 per day. “They are routinely exposed to poisonous pesticides and often trafficked as migrants from other districts and states,” the report said.

While in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat more than 80% of the children are trafficked, North Gujarat ‘receives’ tens of thousands of children from Rajasthan every year. The children often live in makeshift shelters and are vulnerable to mental, physical and sexual abuse, the report said.

Two large multinational companies were named in the report, Monsanto and Bayer.

Monsanto And Bayer Engage In Forced Child LaborA report like this calls into question Monsanto’s seemingly hollow pledge to “convert values to actions and results, and to make clear who we are and what we champion.” It’s hard to imagine that those at the very tops of the organization are not aware of these practices. So their actions make clear what they champion.

With Bayer, the irony is even more evident. Their slogan, Science For A Better Life, may sound nice, but not if that is not extended to a better life for these force child laborers. Not surprising however, given that “a will to succeed” and “a passion for our stakeholders” come ahead of other stated values, like “integrity openness and honesty” and “respect for people and nature.”

In my experience, big business clearly holds some values more valuable than others.

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Trade – A Movie About Sex Trade In The United States

I just finished watching the trailer for TRADE, opening in theaters on Friday, September 28.

TRADE was inspired by a NY Times Magazine story on sex trade in the United States, “The Girls Next Door.” It was written three years ago, but it’s still very relevant. It’s long, detailed and a must read. Written by Peter Landesman, the article attempts to paint a verbal picture of a reality even hardened police officers could not believe after first hand experience.

“On a tip, the Plainfield (NJ) police raided the house in February 2002, expecting to find illegal aliens working an underground brothel. What the police found were four girls between the ages of 14 and 17. They were all Mexican nationals without documentation. But they weren’t prostitutes; they were sex slaves. The distinction is important: these girls weren’t working for profit or a paycheck. They were captives to the traffickers and keepers who controlled their every move. ”I consider myself hardened,” Mark J. Kelly, now a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security), told me recently. ”I spent time in the Marine Corps. But seeing some of the stuff I saw, then heard about, from those girls was a difficult, eye-opening experience.”

The police found a squalid, land-based equivalent of a 19th-century slave ship, with rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, ”morning after” pills and misoprostol, an antiulcer medication that can induce abortion. The girls were pale, exhausted and malnourished.

It turned out that 1212 1/2 West Front Street was one of what law-enforcement officials say are dozens of active stash houses and apartments in the New York metropolitan area — mirroring hundreds more in other major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago — where under-age girls and young women from dozens of countries are trafficked and held captive. Most of them — whether they started out in Eastern Europe or Latin America — are taken to the United States through Mexico.”

The trailer is powerful. And while it’s impossible to judge the quality of a movie by the theatrical trailer, I can only hope the presence of an Academy Award winning actor, Kevin Kline, and an Academy Award nominated writer, Jose Rivera, will drive many to see it and recognize how pervasive the issue of child slavery is. Last week, the film was screened at the United Nations to help illustrate the cruelty of child slavery and sex trafficking.

Trade Poll ResultsUnfortunately, I was one of the 25% who said that this is a problem that must be approached on a political level. Though I am hopeful that this film will indeed raise consciousness of the issue. The more voices we have making noise, the stronger the possibility of change in the right places.

“There is something about the nature of this whole business where people just prefer to look away,” Kevin Kline said. “The network is vast and very efficient. Billions of dollars are at stake and they mean business, these trafficking rings.” (Source: BostonHerald.com)

The movie’s website has a “Get Involved” link that highlights a large number of organizations formed to end human trafficking: Human Rights Organizations Involved With Slave Trade.

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Funds Needed For Cambodia

My wife received this email on Thursday:

Hey Rocky,

Just checking in to see how things are going? We have a project in October that you may have some good leads on. I know you do work around child slavery and the sex trade- we will be working with hundreds of children in Cambodia and do need assistance in trying to raise funds. I thought you might know of a good lead or two. Here is an overview that I will send out in the next day or two …

Hope you are well,

Eric

Mothers Fighting For Others is trying to assist with raising the funds. To find out more, click here: $1 Can Help Over 3000 Children Today.

The Words That Haunt Me

I’m so happy to have Shelley Seale contributing here.

Her last post, “Children as Chattel: Child Labor & Trafficking in India“, is worth a serious read and reflection. I commented on it, stating that one of the paragraphs haunted me. It was this paragraph:

“Child laborers and prostitutes exist in such large numbers for a very simple, yet horrific, reason: they are cheap commodities. Children cost less than cattle; a cow or buffalo costs an average 20,000 rupees, but a child can be bought and traded like an animal for 500 to 2,000 rupees. They can be paid the least, exploited the most, and due to their largely invisible status have virtually no power against their oppressors.”

It is horrific at a level I’m unable to get me mind around. Since Shelley is there, seeing it, feeling it, I asked her, “How does the average American begin to help? How can they effectively create change?”

She responded in an email to me. With her permission, I would like to share it with you here.

From Shelley:

I understand your concern and the feeling of being overwhelmed by the horror of it. Honestly, I feel the same way. Yet, there are many things that the average American, halfway around the world, can do to help bring about change to this “industry.” The very first step is awareness, which people are actively taking when they choose to read articles like this and blogs like yours, instead of turning away. In the words of Albert Schweitzer: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”

For more proactive steps, there are simple things which can keep that conscious awareness at a level at which it can help these children:

1. Be aware of where the goods you buy are coming from. Is it really worth getting something a few dollars cheaper if it is made by slave labor or children? There is a resource called “The Better World Shopping Guide” which is an ethical consumer’s guide to avoiding buying products such as ones that are made in these types of factories and sweatshops that employ child labor. You can go on their site and see the BEST and WORST companies on the planet based on a comprehensive analysis of their overall records of social and environmental responsibility for the past 20 years.

2. You can take action by signing petitions and/or financially supporting organizations that are working worldwide to end child labor. Some of them are: globalmarch.org | endchildlabor.org | earthaction.org

3. You can support individuals and NGOs such as CCD which I visited and profiled for this story. These are the real grassroots people who are working in the trenches every day to uphold the rights of children to that most simple of things: a childhood. Centre for Communication and Development

4. Write to your senators and representatives and urge them to support United Nations’ and global efforts at ended child labor, trafficking and slavery. For a website to look up your representative and contact them online, go to www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

Together, we CAN make this a world fit for children!

Shelley, thank you. I know everyone reading this will benefit from your insight.

Fish Bowl-A Poem

~for the young ones in Thailand
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(The glass room that the women sit behind in these brothels is sometimes called the ‘fish bowl’, where the men can sit and look at them and choose the one he wants to buy)

Through the thick clouds, tainted smoke
Pink vinyl on the seats
On the left sat Mama San
With ladies at her feet

Mr. X leaned in to hear her deal,
“4000 baht,” she crooned.
“Which girl you like?” she asked the man,
“You take in short-time room”.

And so the man withdrew his line,
he threw a heaving cast-
to grab a hold of some young thing,
to get him off real fast.

Her hair was thick, as black as night;
her frame a wee bit small.
Her face was turned towards the set;
her back against the wall.

He cast his net and reeled her in,
a toy with which he would play.
It mattered not her circumstance,
It mattered not her day.

He did not think on how she’d knelt
one hundred times already,
if she were tired, or she were sore,
as long as she was pretty.

Down the hall he followed her,
the girl with Mr. X.
He asked her for the soapie,
which meant he want the sex.

He’d paid her for the hour long,
and not a minute more.
Later on he’d a wife to meet,
and she was just a whore.

A good one though he would admit,
Mama San said she was her best-
better than the last one for sure
even if she’d had small breasts.

Nonetheless, this fisherman,
more skilled now at his game.
never gave another thought
to even ask her name.

Out the door and on his way,
his life feigned normalcy;
and from that day he never thought
of the girl who was Sumalee.

©07 KR

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Overwhelmed By The Volume

feed reader numbersI’m disturbed by the numbers.

I have been busy focusing on some other project for the past few days and left my Child Slavery reading to tonight. When I opened my google feed reader folder, I was shocked by what I found.

The image to the right is a screen capture of my feeds from various search criteria.

As you can see, there are literally thousands of articles to wade through. This may be as clear an indication of the scope of the child slavery problem as anything I’ll find in any single article. I wish I could say I look at this and am filled with hope. But I am quite confident what I’m going to find… many stories of pain and a few stories of joy.

I need to find a way to create more stories of joy.

Startling Connections: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier

I often think of Africa as “so” foreign. It seems like a world I could never relate to.

A Long Way GoneI am reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. I expected to be reading from a detached position… reading about a far off place, about people who live in a culture I can’t begin to understand.

I was startled by how familiar Ishmael felt as I read words like, “The only wars I knew of were those that I had read about in books or seen in movies such as Rambo: First Blood, and the one in neighboring Liberia that I had heard about on the BBC News. My imagination at ten years old didn’t have the capacity to grasp what had taken away the happiness of the refugees.”

His words could be my words now. I have no direct understanding of war, of abject poverty, of forced labor, of child slavery, of child soldiers. I read his words and thought, “this boy was like my son.”

I am not finished with the book. I’m reading it differently than I thought I would. It is hitting home because he was a boy who went to school, loved rap music, danced and had dreams of college. He was not so different. And so the stories of horror that are now flooding the pages seem more real, more painful.