30 Million Men, Women and Children are Slaves Today*
More Slavery Than Any Other Time in History
Human Trafficking is Modern Slavery
*Global Slavery Index 2014
**United Nations Labor Organization forced labor estimate 2012
Stories from survivors
Children as young as 8 years old are trafficked and enslaved in sweatshops in Asia, in brick kilns in India, on large farms in the USA, as sex slaves in Australia, in diamond mines in Africa, in steel production factories in Brazil, and as domestic slaves in family homes throughout the Middle East.
9 years old
12 years old
6 years old
Yemen and Saudi Arabia
20 years old
What are modern slavery and child-trafficking?
Being forced to work without pay under threat of violence and unable to walk away
*Free the slaves (NGO)
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation
*International Labor Organization
Child-trafficking is the illegal process by which children become modern slaves
Some causes of slavery and trafficking
Statistics are staggering…
- 1n 1998, Dr. Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves estimates that 27 million slaves exist in the world today – today that # is as high as 30 Million. Kevin is the world’s leading researcher of modern slavery
- UNICEF, The United Nations Children’s Fund, estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year
- United Nations estimates 2 million adults are trafficked annually
- International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates 12 million people are in forced labor
- US State Department reveals that an estimated 20,000 men, women and children are trafficked into exploitation and slavery in USA annually
- ILO estimates human-trafficking to be a $150 billion dollar business (just behind the drug trade, and just in front of the illegal arms trade)
- Modern slavery and child-trafficking is not just a problem in economically developing countries
- The Anti-Slavery Project of the University of Technology in Sydney reveals new cases of forced slavery in the national labor market regularly Down Under; Australians can’t believe it
- Survivors of human trafficking exist in Austin,Texas supported by Allies Against Slavery
- Slavery and human trafficking is not solely a problem in economically developing countries; it is everywhere
Learn more about some of the issues
The simple fact is that national and international policies exist to protect children; hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on policy and other top-down initiatives. Yet, transnational criminal networks and local thugs do not adhere to rules of law and social ethics. These criminal networks and individuals engaging in trafficking are multiplying overnight, and are becoming more sophisticated and efficient at buying and selling children.
Click on the links to learn more.
- US Department of State: Trafficking In Persons Report
- New York Times (2008) Arrests in London linked to child-trafficking
- Transnational criminal networks and international security (2003)
- Global March Conference (2005)
- AsiaSource 2008: A UNICEF response to trafficking
A legal compass to guide our actions
Since the end of World War II, the global community has created international legislation to combat child-trafficking and modern slavery with the hopes that the atrocities from the Great Wars would never reach our children again. These laws were enacted in order to reach the adults and children who can benefit most from them. Much more legislation exists, but here are a few widely utilized and respected policies of the United Nations and its member countries:
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
- United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989 (the cornerstone of international child protection policies)
- Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor 1999 (the fastest and most widely adopted convention since 1919)
Avoiding moral supremacy
Close your eyes and imagine men and women coming into your home and telling you how to raise your children, how to guide your community and how to govern its people. The end goal of Tribe30.org is not to engage in this type of moral supremacy.
In a diverse and eclectic world, the notion of “right and wrong” is a highly contestable topic, one which sadly creates conflict among communities, states and nations. We want to avoid this.
However, when it comes to child-trafficking and the enslavement of human beings, there is no debate, no grey area. We are concerned with the health, well-being and freedom of people worldwide. All people deserve to live in dignity with freedom from fear.
Modern slavery and child-trafficking are crimes against humanity.
Children sold for the purpose of sexual exploitation, soldiership and bonded/forced labor in factories, on farms or in other exploitative environments require your help.
They are voiceless. They have no power. This is why there is no grey area.
Members of Tribe30 will not rest until every child is free to live in freedom from fear and exploitation.
Concluding words from an
International Child Protection Hero
“The struggle of freedom from slavery has given us this experience, that the most illicit trade of our times, human trafficking, cannot be stopped without a mass movement. Law is important and equally important is the political will substantiated with adequate resources and a prompt and honest enforcement mechanism. But, until and unless the very ordinary people are prepared to say ‘NO’ to the sale and slavery of children, women and men, complete abolition of this inhuman crime will remain a distant dream. The power of the most sacred voices of the victims of slavery can never remain unnoticed or unheard when they are out on the streets to challenge the violence perpetrated upon them.”
Mr. Kailash Satyarthis
Founder, Global March Against Child Labor 2009
The nation of the Solomon Islands is located just north of Australia and east of Papua New Guinea.
Male workers (foreigners) in logging camps are engaging in the commercial sexual exploitation of children as young as 9 years old.
Sita was asked if she wanted to go to school in Malaysia. Sita’s family was promised she would receive an education and that she would be able to eventually work and send money home to her family when she became a teenager. As most families live at the poverty line in the Solomons, the offer was initially accepted.
Sita was about to get on board a logging boat with 20 men, no passport, no visa, no money and no way for her family to contact her.
The loggers who made this promise are using logging boats for the purposes of trafficking children back to Malaysia. It is important to note that South East Asia has the largest supply-side market for forced sex work in the world, often fueled by minorities.
A local leader in the Solomon Islands who does child protection work discovered this “offer of a better life” and intervened before the boat left the islands.
Sita is safe. Prevention and information delivered by local heroes was the key to her rescue.
Twelve-year-old Mawulehawe has been sold by his mother to a local fisherman in Ghana for $40 US. Lake Volta, where he will “learn”, is home to hundreds of child-slaves who do not get paid for their work. Many die in fishing nets and through other unsafe conditions. Mawulehawe’s future is a sad reality.
He may not see his mother again for many years.
She will use the money to buy cooking oil to fry the fish she sells on the shore at Ada, a small fishing town a couple hours drive east of the capital, Accra.
The fisherman to whom Mawulehawe is sold, Darren, will take him away to serve a three-year apprenticeship. Mawulehawe, like many others in the region, is being sold to help alleviate his family’s poverty. He has several brothers and sisters and has had some schooling, but there is not enough money for him to continue. It is now his younger brother’s turn to go to school instead.
Mawulehawe insists he is happy with the deal. Fishing has always been part of his life. And as his family toast the “sale” with a strong drink, it is clear he sees his new life as an adventure. While many of the children working on Lake Volta go enthusiastically, most have no idea of the dangers that lie ahead.
The long, unregulated hours and dangers, such as getting tangled in the nets underneath the water’s surface, can lead to accidents and fatalities.
Six-year-old Ali was picked up by Saudi authorities while begging on the streets of Jeddah. He was smuggled into Saudi Arabia from Yemen in order to beg.
Ali says he ended up begging after physical abuse involving metal wire attacks on his back. He says he was beaten up when he said he did not want to beg all day.
Ali is one of thousands of Yemeni children sold to gangs and forced to beg each year. These children are often sold by families who are duped into believing their offspring will get a better life.
Many of the children who are smuggled over the Saudi/Yemen border are beaten and sometimes even mutilated to become better, more effective beggars. You may recall similar scenes from the award-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire.
It is hard to be exact about figures, but in 2005 the Yemeni Ministry of Social Affairs acknowledged that about 300 children were trafficked across the border every month.
Manuel was a 20 year old married man from South America who decided to come to the United States after his friend approached him about a work opportunity. Manuel would have to pay a fee to travel to the US to make money for farm work. His harrowing journey to the United States lasted for weeks and included being forced by armed men to walk for hours on end as well as being drugged.
After crossing the US border, he was taken to an apartment where he was kept with over 100 other people. The apartment was dirty, rat-infested, and guarded by armed men. He was held in this apartment for months because he was unable to pay the additional smuggling fees which were demanded from him. During his time there, he was forced to cook and clean for the others but without any compensation. He was repeatedly threatened, including being told that he would be killed, and was witness to acts of sexual violence. At one point Manuel and a few other men attempted to help a woman who was being raped. As punishment, the traffickers forcibly removed one man at a time from the apartment, and none of them ever returned. The traffickers forcibly removed Manuel from the apartment, and he feared he was going to be killed. He was not, but instead was severely beaten and thrown out of a moving van, which provided him an opportunity to run away. As he was running, he saw a police car and flagged it down. The police took him to hospital for his injuries where he was referred to a service provider. He cooperated with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement to try to identify his traffickers, but they were never found so the case was closed. He has received a T-Visa, was reunited with his wife, and is now a Legal Permanent Residence who is currently working in construction.
The soft-spoken Salvadoran man bears no resemblance to the iconic images of human-trafficking victims, young girls whose faces are plastered on billboards alongside 1-800 numbers to report crimes.
His jeans hide a cigarette burn on his thigh, and a jagged scar that runs up his shin. It is a reminder, he said, of the day he escaped a remote ranch in Texas where he was held captive by a group of four human traffickers.
He said he was forced to work without pay for five months, picking vegetables at gunpoint. He was beaten and raped and burned with cigarettes, he said.
“You had to do what they said, or they would kill you,” said the man, who the Houston Chronicle is not identifying because he is believed to be the victim of a sex crime. “They treated us like animals.”
After five months, he escaped and ran for days until he found help. In February 2006, he was certified by the federal government as a human-trafficking victim — one of a growing number of men identified as such in recent years.
According to the latest U.S. State Department report on human trafficking, some 45 percent of the 286 certified adult victims in fiscal year 2008 were male, a significant increase from the 6 percent certified in 2006.
Miguel wanted to work in the United States because his young son had cancer and Miguel couldn’t afford the medicine on the salary he made in Mexico. He didn’t have the cash to pay for his journey to the United States so he accepted an offer to get a ride “now” and pay “later”. He soon found himself in a worse situation. He was enslaved in the orange groves of Florida. Every day Miguel was threatened with violence.
“Well, I felt like a slave from the moment that I arrived because we couldn’t pay for the ride and because we had to pay for that and then they started to threaten us.” Miguel said. “It was horrible.”
One day, some people from an organization called Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) visited the workers at the site. They started asking questions about Miguel’s work. At first he didn’t trust them but his instincts told him to ask for their card. Later he decided to call them and after talking with them he started to trust them. He set up a time to meet and the CIW set up a rescue.
Now Miguel is working because he wants to. He has the freedom to take days off and work overtime. He is able to send money back home to his family now. His son is healthy.