Child Slavery: Stories


From Anti-Slavery International:

The problem:

Slavery on cocoa plantations

Young men and boys are trafficked between countries in West Africa and used as forced labour on plantations producing goods for export such as cotton and cocoa. Take Drissa, he left his home in Mali and travelled over 300 miles to neighbouring
Côte d’Ivoire in search of work harvesting cocoa on plantations.

On arrival he was sold to a plantation owner, taken to a remote plantation and forced to work from dawn until dusk with no pay. The work was exhausting but if Drissa showed signs of tiredness he was beaten. At night, along with 17 other young men, he was locked in a small room with only a tin can as a toilet. When Drissa was caught trying to escape, he was tied up and beaten until he couldn’t walk. It is not clear how widespread slavery on cocoa plantations in the Côte d’Ivoire is.

However, the country is the world’s biggest exporter of cocoa so it is possible.

Child labour in the carpet industry

According to the United States Department of Labor, in 1997 over 2.2 million children world-wide were illegally employed making carpets and rugs. In India, Pakistan and Nepal, families are often tricked into sending their children to a carpet workshop in order to work off a loan that the family has taken. These children may end up working ten to 14 hours a day in cramped and hazardous conditions, weaving, knotting and cutting the carpet threads. This is what happened to Raju from India. At the age of seven, he was sold into bondage by his parents in exchange for a loan. For nearly one year, Raju worked seven days a week weaving carpets.

In 1999, the UK imported nearly 3.5 million square metres of handmade rugs from India, Pakistan and Nepal. Many of these carpets will have been made using illegal child labour.

The Solution


is the only guarantee that products, such as chocolate, are “slave free” and have not been made using forced labour. All fair trade
products have to meet strict conditions, including ensuring that no forced or illegal child labour has been used. Fair trade goods also give producers a fair price for their produce, thus helping to challenge the unfair trading systems that keep people in poverty and often force them into slavery.

Similarly the RUGMARK label is a certification that no illegal child labour has been used to make your carpet or rug. Rugmark works to eradicate child labour in the South Asian carpet industry through factory monitoring, consumer labelling and educating and training former child labourers.



Stand With Sanju

In 2001, a researcher for the organization, Free The Slaves, went to Ghana to lake Volta. The fish supply had decreased because too many fish were being caught.

The researcher went to investigate reports that fishing villages were using enslaved children as labor. If a fishing net became snagged, in deep water, children would be forced to dive into the deep water, even at night, and free the net
To help the kids get down to the nets faster, they were forced to wear weights. Unfortunately, the kids themselves can become trapped in the netting underwater and drown.

When bodies wash up on the shore, the police assign natural causes to the children’s deaths. Additionally, the researcher found that the kids were fed little.

When some kids ate some of the fish that were caught, they were punished by being beaten. They slept little. If they became sick, or injured during work, they did not get any help.


Bales, K. (2005). Understanding global slavery: A reader. Berkley, California: University of California Press.



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