Many women, men, and children become slaves due to several situations every year. The situation is worse in Africa due to the poor economic conditions in the continent. In Africa, children trafficking both in the continent and abroad are very alive. The International community recognizes child labor and slavery as a serious threat, but the practices continue to exist in the 21st century (Fitzgibbon, 2003 p 81). Children are unable to make their decisions and parents make the decisions for them. Their parents mostly without the knowledge of the situation release most of the children who are enslaved.
It is not the wish of the parents to sell their children as slaves but it is sometimes a situation of deception, theft, born into slavery or are forced. Children move from their home country to a foreign country with the promise of a better life but they end up becoming slaves. Cases of unsuspecting parents being deceived and selling their children into slavery have been on the rise. In addition, children born in slavery become slaves automatically no matter who their father is. When the black Americans were enslaved, the children took the status of their mother.
Most of the children especially in Africa become slaves through placement. This is a situation where a child is put into custody with a well-off acquaintance or relative by their parents to perform light duties in exchange for training opportunities and education. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 41% of the children between age five to fourteen work (Fitzgibbon, 2003 p 82). In Nigeria for example, ILO found out that 40% of the street hawkers are victims of trafficking. With the current state of the economy in Africa, parents cannot be able to take care of their children. Life is hard and unemployment is rising. The problem is worse with the levels of corruption in some of the affected countries. With this in mind, parents find it hard to educate their children. In an attempt to get them a better future, the parents place their children with relatives living in urban areas to undertake light duties in exchange for food, a roof, and education. However, such children end up becoming slaves at the homes of their relatives or acquaintances.
Poverty is the key fuel to children slavery. A high rate of children under slavery is from the poor countries as compared to developed countries. Traditionally, slaves were mainly from Africa and the notion that Africans can make good slaves in still I the minds of some people. Poverty makes it easy to deceive parents who release their knowledge. Most of the older generation in some continents are not educated and thus cannot even be able to read a contract. Intermediaries deceive unsuspecting parents that their children will have a better life wherever they are living (Fitzgibbon, 2003 p 85). The parents with the notion that there are good jobs in the developed countries end up selling their children to slavery without knowing. These parents are just trying to make life better for their children but end up making it worse for lack of no other choice.
Forced slavery remains a major way in which children are enslaved. From Congo, Sudan to Syria, recruitment and abduction of children to fight as soldiers continue to happen. The most recent is the case of Syria where opposing forces both from the government and opposition recruits children to fight for them or to donate blood to the injured soldiers. In a report released by the Norwegian Peace building Resource Center in February 2015, Sommerfelt and Taylor (p 2) concluded that children below 18 years were participating in the war. Through ideological persuasions, children are brainwashed and recruited (Fallon, and Tzannatos, 1998 p 45). Terror groups such as the ISIS destabilize a region making the children feel like they have no other choice other than taking part in the fight.
The Human Rights Watch interviewed 25 children in 2014 who described their different reasons for participation in the war. Some said they had joined their relatives who were in the war, while other claimed that with no education, they felt useless thus susceptible to recruitment. In Africa, children abduction occurs for the children to serve as forced laborers and sex slaves for militia officers (Tiefenbrun, 2007 p 418). In the year 2014, the Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in a secondary school in Nigeria Boko Haram forcibly abducted the girls to be for forced labor and as suicide bombers.
In Uganda, the resistance army has abducted more than 10,000 children to fight as soldiers. In Congo, the resistance army raided villages, killed parents, and abducted the children. These children receive training to be soldiers without their consent. To make it easy to train them, the abductors inform them that the opposing forces killed their parents. With the feeling of anger and despair, the children trained hard for revenge (Stevenson, 2014 p278). Children are considerably good for war given that the opponents will find it hard to kill children. This is the major reason children abduction for training still remain a challenge in the world. In cases of abducted children, parents have nothing to do other than just wait.
In Syria, mothers and children free the war zones. However, the young boys return to fight in the army with their fathers. The mothers wish to protect their sons but they also understand their feeling of uselessness and desperation. These mothers themselves long to go back to Syria. A mother who longs to go back to Syria would have a hard time trying to convince his son not to go back (Sommerfelt and Taylor, 2015). This is the major reason why these children continue to participate in the war. In Congo, children including girls are recruited into the war and forced to commit harmful psychologically atrocities. The use of children as soldiers has remained to expand in Africa and Syria.
Internal conflicts, civil unrest, and natural disasters displace and destabilize a region. This raises the vulnerability of exploitation, trafficking, and abuse for such populations. In times of war and natural occurrences, there are those people interested in plundering of countries natural resources. In line with this argument, such people utilize the vulnerable people in the region. The most vulnerable group is the youth. With the promise of a better live and freedom, such young people participate in illegal transportation of natural resources and ammunitions.
Being Born In Slavery
In the 19th century when slavery existed in the United States, children born to slave parents automatically became slaves. In the early years of slavery, slave owners had a realization that women were very valuable due to their reproduction capability. Women were nucleus of a labor force. In that era, there was buying and selling of slaves between slave owners. However, with women, it was easy to reproduce and have a larger and strong labor force without buying the slaves (Marquis, 1996 p 103). In addition, those enslaved as children lived for long reducing the expenses for slave owners. In increasing reproduction, women were forcibly impregnated through cohabitation and rape.
According to historians, many young girls became mothers as early as 13 years. A child born in slavery had no choice other than becoming a slave. It is disheartening to note that children born of a black mother and a white father automatically inherited the slave status of the mother. It was common for the white men to take black women as sex slaves or concubines. The white men showed no feeling towards their own children and treated them just like the other slaves where s the slave owners provided for them (Marquis, 1996 p 101). Thus, it is clear that children were very valuable in those eras. The slave owners did not prefer to buy children slaves given that it was very expensive to transport children from a continent like Africa to America. Most of them died on the way and the slave traders would make losses. Thus, the slave owners concentrated on reproduction from the enslaved women.
Given the nature of the forced labor, mothers could not spend much time with their children. Most of the mothers only saw their children for a short time in the evening and on weekends. If a mother receives permission to finish her work in the afternoon to attend to the child, the husband automatically had to work overtime to cover for the wife’s absence. The older siblings mostly looked after the young ones giving the parents the time to work. Despite all these challenges, some of the mothers were able to develop strong bonds with their children (Marquis, 1996 p 102). Mother would take beatings for their children. In most cases however, the father had a different slave owner from the mother and child. Thus, the fathers had no chance of developing bonds with their children. However, many of the fathers made an effort to visit their wife and children whenever they got a chance.
Illegal Adoption and Theft
Adoption of children is yet another way through which children become slaves. In the society today, governments allow couples to adopt children from their original parents or from other child services. However, there is always no guarantee that such children will find happiness in their new homes. There have been cases of children who have prospered after adoption but there are those who are enslaved (King, 2011 p 59). A case study of Ecuador revealed that are illegal international adoptions. Rings run by lawyers result to disturbing and illegal actions to ensure that their clients secure an adoption. Some of the parents receive persuasion through economic incentives and others forcibly give up their children. A study showed that by the year 1987, foreign couples had adopted 132 children in Ecuador. By the year 1988, the number raised to 166 (Fieweger, 1991 p 286). Most of these children ended up in North America and European countries. Most of these adoptions were illegal.
Cases of missing children are also on the rise all over the world. Parents steal their own children to sell them in an attempt to withdraw the responsibility of rearing bringing up children. In the year 2006, a teacher in China who had been cheating the students about a child labor survey shocked the world. To their dismay, the children forcibly worked in factories as slaves. From the stories told by the students, life in the factories where they worked was unbearable (Shen, Antonopoulos, and Papanicolaou, 2013). They were overworked and beaten. Unsuspecting parents did not realize that their children were slaves. This is just but a single case of slavery. Parents tired with their children can end up selling them to work as slave laborers. There have also been cases where illiterate parents sell their children without their knowledge. These parents sign contracts they cannot read or understand and they end up selling their children into slavery.
With the ear of the internet, it has become easy for a stranger to kidnap children. In an article in Washington post authored by David Finkelhor who is a director at University of New Hampshire in the Crimes against Children Research Center, he argues that young people these days experiment and socialize online and in the process can meet people with bad intentions. Blackmailing of young people on social media sites is common to the extent of some committing suicide. A stranger enslaves their mind and torments them. Parents with no idea of what is going on do not realize the danger their parents are in. such children can even be brainwashed and recruited to join terror groups.
There are many reasons and ways through which children become slaves. From poverty to abduction, many children become slaves without the knowledge of what awaits them. With the economic conditions in continents like Africa, intermediaries trick parents into giving away their children and receive economic incentives. In countries like Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and others, there is massive abduction and recruitment of children to act as war soldiers (Fitzgibbon, 2003 p 84). In extreme cases, their abductors kill their parents and blame it on opposing forces. This is meant to motivate the children to fight. In Congo, the label forces after murdering parents recruited their children with the pretence that the government forces killed the parents. Unknowingly, the children joined the forces and fought fiercely. They were introduced to drug abuse. Not only were they slaves to their recruiters but they became slaves to drugs. The label leaders supplied them with drugs in exchange for continued fighting. Such children also mined minerals and worked as artisans in the making of crude weapons (Savio, 2010 p 35).
In the 19th century when slavery was common in the United States, children born to slave parents automatically became a slave. If the father was white and mother black, the child gained the status of the mother. Illegal adoption that occurs regularly in the developing countries is another way through which children become slaves. Once adopted, these children forcibly do all sorts of things without the knowledge of the real parents. In addition, children are always going missing in different parts of the world. It is never clear where these missing children go but there is a possibility they become slaves. Most of these causes of children slavery are interrelated. The most prevalent factor is poverty. Most of the parents do extraordinary things when it comes to their children after economic incentives come into play. Wars exist in the developing countries where poverty levels are high.
Fallon, P. and Tzannatos, Z., 1998. Child Labor. World Bank.
Fieweger, M.E., 1991. Stolen children and international adoptions. Child Welfare, 70(2), pp.285-91.
Fitzgibbon, K., 2003. Modern-day slavery? The scope of trafficking in persons in Africa. African Security Studies, 12(1), pp.81-89.
King, W., 2011. Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in nineteenth-century America. Indiana University Press.
Marquis, C., 1996. The Rearing of Slave Children and Their Parental Relationships Before and After Emancipation. The Sloping Halls Review, 3.
Savio, M., 2010. Dynamics of oppression and state failure: cases of child labour in artisanal and small-scale mines, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sommerfelt, T. and Taylor, M.B., 2015. The big dilemma of small soldiers: recruiting children to the war in Syria.
Shen, A., Antonopoulos, G.A. and Papanicolaou, G., 2013. China’s stolen children: internal child trafficking in the People’s Republic of China. Trends in organized crime, 16(1), pp.31-48.
Stevenson, B.E., 2014. Family and Community in Slave Narratives. The Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative, p.277
Tiefenbrun, S., 2007. Child soldiers, slavery and the trafficking of children. Fordham Int’l LJ, 31, p.415.
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