According to the International Labor Organization, at least 5.5 million children are slaves. Let’s be clear what we mean by modern-day slavery: children who are forced to work, who do not have the choice to stop working, who are typically brought to the workplace as the result of fraud or coercion and receive no compensation other than the barest subsistence. Slavery takes many forms, including sexual slavery and manual labor in many industries, such as agriculture, construction, mining, fishing and the manufacturing of carpets and clothing. The work is brutal, hours are long, and abuse of all kinds is common.
Free the Slaves has been working to end child slavery for more than a decade in hundreds of communities across multiple countries in Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. Based on that experience we have defined five key elements to ending child slavery: educate, organize, serve, liberate and prosecute.
Educate: Parents, teachers, clergy and children needed to be educated about trafficking. A little education can go a long way toward fending off moneylenders, traffickers and others who prey on ignorance.
Organize: Communities that organize against slavery are better protected. These groups serve as a kind of neighborhood watch against slavery.
Serve: Three key gaps increase the potential for slavery — credit, schools and health care. Increasing access to credit, schools and health care creates a bulwark against child slavery.
Liberate: Training and modest investments help local non-governmental organizations and police identify, track and liberate enslaved children.
Prosecute: Stepped-up law enforcement is also required. Only a tiny fraction of slavery perpetrators are ever arrested, and even fewer are punished in any meaningful way.
Systematically putting these lessons to work will move the world closer to eradicating slavery.
Learn more at Maurice I. Middleberg’s Huffington Post article: Five Words Can End Child Slavery.