Anti-Slavery Society -                          

Fighting Slavery Today 

 

   

2021 is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor

This is year has been declared by the International Labour Organization as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor.

     
   
     
   


Buying Chocolate Easter Eggs?  Were They Produced by Cocoa Plantation Slaves in West Africa?

Cocoa is the essential ingredient for making chocolate Easter eggs. A significant proportion of the world production of cocoa is grown and harvested on plantations by African slaves.

These slaves are on cocoa plantations in remote rural areas in West Africa. Some of the chocolate Easter eggs which we buy is made using slave cocoa. The slaves are beaten by the overseer. They are not fed properly. They work long hours. They are locked up in a slave barracks at night. They are beaten and often killed if they try to escape.

The problem for consumers is to know the difference between slave cocoa and free cocoa. Obviously, no manufacturer labels its product as "Cocoa Grown With Slave Labor".

As a result of a mission by one of the Society's agents to West Africa, the Society is compiling a list of slave cocoa products.

As a rule of thumb, the cocoa purchased by the more expensive chocolate manufacturers tends to be free cocoa. However, there is an exception. If the manufacturer experiences an unexpected surge in consumer demand and purchases cocoa on the spot market, there is a significant risk that a proportion of the purchase might have come from plantations in West Africa which grow and harvest cocoa using slaves.

Conversely, as a general rule of thumb, there is a risk that the cheaper chocolates (which are often "No Label" brands and the like) have been manufactured using cocoa purchased on the spot market, a proportion of which may be slave cocoa.

In Côte d'Ivoire (the largest exporter of cocoa with plantations were slaves work), exports from that country have decreased and cocoa prices have increased, so that there has been a decline in the use of slaves on the plantations.

The material in this report is based on a Mission to West Africa by the Society's Secretary.

     
   
     
   


Was your sparkling diamond mined by child slaves?

Children work as slaves in the diamond mines near Koidu Town, the capital of the Kono district of the Republic of Sierra Leone (ironically, a former British colony which was established for freed West African slaves and which was once the base for the Anti-Slavery Squadron of the Royal Navy). There thousands of child slaves work without pay for the mine barons.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, was stunned by the magnitude and scale of slavery which he saw in the diamond mines. "I was horrified by what I saw at the minefields", he said.

These diamonds are not "blood diamonds" and are readily exported to Antwerp and other locations where they are polished and make their way to your local department store or jeweler.

If your diamond is a cheaper diamond or gem, was it cut or polished by bonded children in India? Less expensive diamonds and gems are imported into India as rough stones, which are cut or polished by children. Much of the industry is based in the State of Gujarat.

You can assist by purchasing from those diamonds and gems from companies which we support. As we receive requests from around the world (from the USA to Iraq), let us know what country you live in.

The material in this report relating to Sierra Leone is based on the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, and the material relating to diamond and gem polishing in India is based on the Mission to India by the Society's Secretary.

     
   
     
    "COVID-19 could push millions into slavery"      
   

THE SOCIETY IN ACTION
The Society is seeking your input for its report to the United Nations on the i mpact of Covid-19 on child slavery.  The Society will acknowledge any input used in its report.  You do not have to be a member of the Society to do so.

     
   
     
    Involvement of organised crime in contemporary forms of slavery      
   

THE SOCIETY IN ACTION
Do you have evidence of the involvement of criminal organisations in contemporary forms of slavery?

The Society is preparing its report to the United Nations on the involvement of criminals in contemporary forms of slavery.  The Society will acknowledge the source of any input in its report, but if you wish to remain anonymous, please let us know.

     
   
     
    Appeal to President Biden      
    THE SOCIETY IN ACTION
The Society is currently preparing a submission to The Honorable Joe Biden, President of the USA, to continue to support the programs of the US Department of Labor and the State Department in combatting slavery and child labor.  We invite any suggestions you wish to make.  You do not have to be a member of the Society to do so.
     
   
     
   

Child Labor in the Fashion Industry



The Fashion Design Council of India has collaborated with Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation to launch #Notmadebychildren campaign.

The campaign aims to stop child labour in India's fashion and textile industries.

"There are so many people who follow fashion," Kailash said. "So, I feel this is one of the great platforms to raise voice against child labor. Fashion industry is not only about beauty and glamour. People involved in fashion are also responsible for creating awareness and education among people."

"This movement will enhance the inner beauty and outer beauty of the fashion industry and of course will help in changing the lives of our children."

Fashion designers like Rina Dhaka, Rahul Mishra and Reynu Taandon were a part of the pledge ceremony.

     
   
     

 

 

 

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Raids and Rescues


 

Why commando-style raids?



Ïn 2018 Her Excellency Nikki Hayley, the then Permanent Representative of the US to the United Nations, met rescued child laborers at the Mukhi Ashram in India.

       
   Many of these children were rescued in commando style-raids which the Society funds.  Many of our supporters ask us why these raids are necessary.

Early direct intervention in the form of unarmed commando-style raids can rescue children from further abuse and exploitation.  A commando-style raidis the fastest and most efficient way to rescue them, as children who are being exploited or abused cannot wait indefinitely.

These operations must, however, be handled in a professional manner and with the utmost care.

Most parents have no idea where their children are.  Many of them approach our partners, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, asking them to help them find their children.

A raid and rescue operation starts with trying to find the child, collecting intelligence on his or her whereabouts.  Agents of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan launch a detailed investigation and collect intelligence from their sources, especially in those States such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh where child labor is endemic.

As soon as a child is located, this intelligence is passed on to the parents.

THE SOCIETY IN ACTION

The Society continues to fund commando-style raids that rescue children in northern India, as well as providing some funding for the Bal Ashram center, run by our partners, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which is a transit rehabilitation center for rescued children. The Society is providing further funding for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

THIS IS THE SOCIETY IN ACTION

The Society wishes once again to thank all our members and supporters for their support. 

The raid is then carefully planned. The local administration is informed about the impending raid to ensure police protection, if needed, during the operation.

However, the precise location and exact date of the raid has to be kept secret from the authorities, the police and local politicians. This is because many local politicians and administrators are corrupt and are bribed by the owners.

This was the reason why one of the raids in late 2011 was unsuccessful. Agents had procured 500 children, either by kidnapping or by false promises to their parents.  The children were destined for sweatshops in Mumbai (it used to be called Bombay), a major city in India.  The agents were taking the children to Mumbai by train. The police were ready and waiting to seize them and rescue the children when the train arrived at Mumbai train station.  News of the impeding raid was leaked to the agents — which was very easy as they had cell phones. The agents disembarked with the children en route before the train arrived at its destination.

A raid and rescue operation, of course, involves considerable personal risk for the rescuers.


Although these commando-style raids are unarmed, the wicked men who beat and abuse these children usually employ armed thugs and goons.  For example, in March 2011 there was an apparent attempt to kill Kailash Satyarthi.

The Society's Secretary remember Rama Kant Rai showing him the wounds that he had received from owners’ thugs while carrying out raids.  Others have been dragged in chains behind cars and threats made against their families.  Some owners have even attempted to murder rescuers. Several attempts were made to murder Rama Kant Rai and Kailash Satyarthi, who was chairman of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan and spearheads the effort to free children from the various forms of child slavery, bonded child labor and child pawnage, thus directly undermining their profits.

Raid and rescue is not an end in itself.  Rehabilitation, social reintegration and restoring them to their parents complete every rescue.  Rescue without effective rehabilitation and repatriation is futile, as there is a real risk that a rescued child will once again fall back into the cycle of exploitation.

After children are rescued, their official release certificates must be secured from the local administration. These release certificates help them obtain their statutory rehabilitation package. This can take a long time, and obtaining these release certificates and rehabilitation packages from government bureaucracies places an enormous pressure on the Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s resources.

The freed children are currently staying in the transit rehabilitation center of Bal Ashram (Jaipur), Rajasthan, before being restored to their parents.  Rehabilitation centers like Mukti Ashram and Bal Ashram allow rescued children to recover before being restored to their parents.

Bal Ashram in Rajasthan is a rehabilitation center where rescued children are given basic education and vocational training, along with special care and attention to their individual development. They also participate in sporting activities. Children aged 13 and over are also provided with vocational training in a trade of their choice (such as carpentry, tailoring, welding, motor winding, screen printing, painting, organic farming and kitchen gardening).The vocation is chosen keeping in mind their interest in a particular trade and their earning prospects in the local area when they finish.


Who carries out these commando-style raids?
Our partners, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan.  They are based in New Delhi, India. Your support helps fund these raids.

Why doesn’t the government act?
The government has laws against these practices, but they are often not enforced.  Some labor inspectors who were interviewed by the BBC World Service explained that they will not investigate unless they receive a direction from their superior or from a Supreme Court judge or from an executive magistrate.  It is therefore often rather futile forwarding complaints to the Labour Department and waiting for it to act.