Each year, hundreds of thousands of children are either sold by their families, kidnapped or lured away by the promise of a good job, only to end up being beaten, abused and working for little or no pay. The State Department releases a yearly report on child trafficking in which they tell victims stories in order to raise awareness. Here are some of them.
Rathana was born to a very poor family in Cambodia. When Rathana was 11 years old, her mother sold her to a woman in a neighboring province who sold ice in a small shop. Rathana worked for this woman and her husband for several months. She was beaten almost every day and the shop owner never gave her much to eat. One day a man came to the shop and bought Rathana from the ice seller. He then took her to a far-away province. When they arrived at his home he showed Rathana a pornographic movie and then forced her to act out the movie by raping her. The man kept Rathana for more than eight months, raping her sometimes two or three times a day. One day the man got sick and went to a hospital. He brought Rathana with him and raped her in the hospital bathroom. Another patient reported what was happening to the police. Rathana was rescued from this man and sent to live in a shelter for trafficking survivors.
Vipul was born into extreme poverty in a village in Bihar, the poorest state in India. His mother was desperate to keep him and his five brothers from starving, so she accepted $15 as an advance from a local trafficker, who promised more money once 9-year-old Vipul started working many miles away in a carpet factory. The loom owner treated Vipul like any other low-value industrial tool. He forced Vipul and the other slaves to work for 19 hours a day, never allowed them to leave the loom, and beat them savagely when they made a mistake in the intricate designs of the rugs, which were sold in Western markets. The work itself tore into Vipul’s small hands, and when he cried in pain, the owner stuck Vipul’s finger in boiling oil to cauterize the wound and then told him to keep working. After five years, local police, with the help of NGO activists, freed Vipul and nine other emaciated boys.
Cindy was a poor girl in rural China when a neighbor and her husband offered to give her work at a restaurant their friends opened in Africa. Cindy dropped out of school and went with the couple to Ghana, only to fall victim to a Chinese sex trafficking ring. She was taken to live in a brothel with other Chinese women, and her passport and return tickets were confiscated. Her traffickers forced her to engage in commercial sex and beat her when she refused. They made her peruse casinos to attract white men. The traffickers took Cindy’s money, telling her she had to repay them for her travel and accommodation costs. A Ghanaian investigative journalist exposed the ring, and the traffickers were prosecuted in a Ghanaian court. With NGO assistance, Cindy and the other women returned to China and are trying to rebuild their lives.”
Today is World Day Against Child Labor and You Can Help
In India, thousands of children as young as 8 work in coal mines for very little pay. While some small non-profit organizations are able to get some of the children out of the mines and back into school, many children are faced early on with the knowledge that they may never escape the mines. The LA Times shares this hard realization here:
“Sharan may be leaving this hazardous work behind. He quit fourth grade years back, and an area civic group has persuaded him to return. Late, from Assam state, who’s never attended school and is illiterate, is more typical.
“Let Sharan go off, play the big man,” he said, fighting back tears. “I’ll cut coal. That’s my life.”
You can help by signing the petition asking India’s President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to be a voice for the child miners of India and to end child labor once and for all.
Children all over the world are vulnerable to child trafficking. As many as 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. In Mexico, more than 16,000 children are working in the sex trade, most of them concentrated around tourist destinations. In Southeast Asia, at least 30 percent of sex trade workers are between the ages of 12 and 17.
You can help by signing the petition asking the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, to stand up for our future and end child trafficking.
In cocoa fields, children who have never tasted chocolate toil to harvest the cocoa pods for hours on end for little or no wages.
You can help by pledging to make sure that all of your chocolate is Fair Trade and Child Labor free.
Photo Credit: AЯίF | Arifur Rahman via Flickr