Above, Indian children shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi on the Global Day Against Child Trafficking. While many countries have laws banning child labor, India has only recently pushed for a comprehensive law to punish child labor employers.
Despite being outlawed, modern slavery persists. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently estimated that 20.9 million people are modern slaves worldwide. The search for the cheapest labor and lowest production costs creates a market that human traffickers supply. Children are not alone, as adults are also shackled into performing forced labor in parts of the world where enforcement is lax and corruption unbounded.
The closest most Americans will come to modern slavery is calculating how many slaves work for them. Few realize that modern slaves may have picked the produce at their grocery store or the beans for their Fair Trade coffee.
A group of Brazilian slave laborers listens to a Labor Ministry inspector (R) explain their legal rights on the Bom Jesus farm in the Amazon basin. As teams of government inspectors and federal police step up their quest to free an estimated 25,000 slave laborers, there is no doubt that Brazil’s feudal slavery traditions are alive in pockets of its hardscrabble northeast, more than a century after the practice was abolished.
Photo: Rickey Roger/Reuters
Domestic Servitude in Burkina Faso
Valerie, 16, was sent by her parents eight years ago to live in her aunt’s house in a little village in Burkina Faso, as a domestic helper. Valerie is the first to wake up at 5:00 each day, and the last to go to sleep at almost midnight. She takes care of the 18 people living in the house, washing, cleaning, sweeping and cooking. When her aunt is unhappy with her work, Valerie is beaten.
Valerie never went to school. A year ago, she fought with her aunt for permission to take tailoring lessons in a center for trafficked children in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Valerie wants to be a tailor. She wants an opportunity to decide her future.
Photo: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images
Migrant Workers Tricked Into Forced Labor
Workers carry buckets of tomatoes to a drop-off point as they harvest what they can from tomato fields in Homestead, Florida. Migrant and undocumented workers promised well-paying jobs can fall victim to modern slavery—even in the United States.
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Children Making Bricks in Afghanistan
Afghan children sort bricks at the Sadat Ltd. Brick factory, where they work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Child labor is common at the brick factories where the parents work as laborers. Desperate to make more money, they enlisting their children to help doing the less-strenuous jobs. Workers can make an average of $200 to $300 per month. The factory is paid around $45 for every 1,000 bricks.
Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images
Indian Kids Mine Coal
A young boy named Fight, believed to be eight years old, shovels coal at a depot near Lad Rymbai, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. Children and adults squeeze into rat-hole-like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment. Workers can earn as much as $150 per week or 30,000 Rupees per month, significantly higher than the national average of $15 per day. Some of the labor is forced, and an Indian NGO group, Impulse, estimates that 5,000 privately owned coal mines in Jaintia Hills employ some 70,000 child miners.
Photo: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Fair Trade Opportunity for Child Labor
Clarisse Kambire, 13, a child laborer, fills a sack with bolls of cotton during the harvesting of fair trade organic cotton with fellow child laborers in a field near Benvar, Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, child labor is endemic to the production of its chief crop export. Paying lucrative premiums for organic and fair trade cotton has—perversely—created fresh incentives for exploitation.
A slave worker, who was later rescued by local authorities, is pictured at a brick kiln in China’s Henan province. Chinese police detained 168 people accused of involvement in slavery that trapped victims in scorching brick kilns.
Chinese Workers Rescued From Slavery
Workers stand at a police station after they were rescued from a brick factory in Hongdong County in Linfen, north China’s Shanxi province. Thirty-one people, forced to work for a year as slaves, given only bread and water and no pay, were rescued at a factory run by the son of a local Communist Party official.
Photo: China Daily/Reuters
Nimble Hands and 19-Hour Work Days
Young boys work as carpet weavers in an illegal factory in Attock, Pakistan. This village has about 20 carpet factories, where children as young as five work from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. in bad conditions and for low wages. Carpet weaving is one of the few chances for Afghan refugees in the village to make money. The children are often beaten and denied school studies.
Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He’s covered a wide range of topics for TakePart, but is particularly interested in politics and policy. Email Andrew |@natureofdabeast | TakePart.com