Home Blog Human Rights Blog Competition 2012 Human Right # 4 – No Slavery: Questioning the Verity of the Abolition of Slavery

Human Right # 4 – No Slavery: Questioning the Verity of the Abolition of Slavery

If we think that kidnapping, corruption, poor service delivery, money laundering, unemployment, corruption and the likes are the most agonizing ills that we are currently posed with in our world today, then we really need to think again.

Let’s seat back, relax and talk about something more heartbreaking than the other social challenges we’re facing, yet, we as a society have turned a blind eye to it time and again: it is called Modern Day Slavery.

Tales of woe from Nigeria's child 'slaves'

Tales of woe from Nigeria's child 'slaves' Picture Credit - BBC News


In a world where slave trade was avowedly abolished some centuries ago, it is awfully heart-rending to learn that slavery still thrives. Modern language uses human trafficking and child labor as if referring to a new phenomenon. What difference is there between today’s human trafficking and slave trade; and between child labor and slavery? These are just names adopted to denote some forms of the old evil of slavery; it is a matter of semantics, so to speak, as the ills perpetrated are exactly the same. These new forms of slavery are like the old – both locally and internationally.

A clip from “Chocolate’s Child Slaves” introduces an Ivory Coast cocoa producer who admits that child labor exists. - Video Credit: CNN

Whilst some might argue that the comparison with slavery is perhaps overstating the case, the violation of the fundamental human rights of the victims inherent in the two scenarios is indisputable.

The children who are victims of abuse are mainly enticed by promise of a better life. The practice of taking children from their parents by well-to-do persons in other to better their lot was a magnanimous practice which has been completely manipulated and successfully hijacked, by modern day traffickers who have constituted themselves into a very powerful and deadly mafia. These children who happily left home expecting to experience a better life eventually find themselves in labor camps, and other dehumanizing jobs, like prostitution and drug trafficking.

Shockingly, human trafficking is now said to be the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world, only second to arms trade. Sadly, 70% of the victims of human trafficking are females; majority of them–children. Facts to buttress this:

“According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking has become the second fastest growing criminal industry — just behind drug trafficking — with children accounting for roughly half of all victims. Of the 2,515 cases under investigation in the U.S. in 2010, more than 1,000 involved children.

And those are only the ones we know of. Too often, authorities say, victims stay silent out of fear, so no one knows they exist.

That’s why President Obama declared January National Human Trafficking Awareness month.” Human trafficking a growing crime in the U.S.

Phrases like: “hard working child”, “responsible child”,”promising child”, etc., are used to colour the real connotation of the tragic reality:”child abuse”. However, no amount of such pretentious coloration would suffice.

Often, it is only when we see children being forced into early marriages; working in factories, or other established labor camps that we remember child abuse. Child abuse is not limited to factory and sales of wares. It extends to instances of children being used as house helps, baby sitters, bus conductors, street hawkers, etc. Such children are given out in return for daily, monthly, or annual monetary returns for the family. Children in these categories are often asked to perform duties that are not commensurate with them. They hardly combine these works with their education, thus, they either quit school or attend school as a part time engagement.

Abuse has a number of effects on the child involved which are hazardous to their mental health. Abused children carry responsibilities for which they are not prepared. They are subjected to work overtime, mostly at nights, when other children are asleep – this is downright enslavement. Abuse injures the psyche of the child. A sexually molested child is prone to develop phobia and hatred for the opposite gender. All in all, the child is robbed of his/her fundamental human rights to education, health and security.

Moreover, it takes a considerable time and therapy for a victimized child to inhale the pure air of freedom and safety during rehabilitation process. Thus, families and the society at large should ensure that children are raised in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding – to ensure their full and harmonious development.

Nevertheless, as a community of changemakers, I invite us to take a thorough look in the world around us. Think of those who are victims of any form of modern day slavery. Is that the kind of life that we want for them? Is that the kind of experience that we want for our future? How can we as a community of changemakers in our various contexts and backgrounds help to mitigate the evil of modern day slavery and help those who have been victimized by this inhumane act?

Share your ideas, views, experiences and knowledge about this hot topic and post your solutions in the comment section below.


  1. Avatar of Paul Shaw
    wrote on February 1st, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Paul Shaw

    Well done Samuel for highlighting this important topic. As regards Child Labour, some children actually have no choice but to work and earn money to support their family. The question then has to be asked, is education of the child more important than the income the child brings home to support the family?

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 1st, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Samuel Duru

      Thank you Paul for the terrific comment!

      For such families I don’t know. However, what I do know is that the basic education of the child should be more imperative than anything. Apart from being a fundamental human right, education is a surefire way to lift millions of families out of a life-time of poverty. A child should be in school at school hours, not on the street, farm or in the field. When a child learns basic life and literacy skills, he/she will be able to have a better life in the future and support their family.

  2. Avatar of unyimeabasi
    wrote on February 1st, 2012 at 7:30 pm


    Child slavery is a damn to our society.
    Its not all about putting chains in someone’s neck; but child labour at home and public places, harrassment and abuse of human and child’s right.
    This’ a touching issue that needs redress.

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 2nd, 2012 at 7:53 am

      Samuel Duru

      Well said Unyimeabasi. Truly, all hands must be on deck to redress the all-important issues of human rights abuse. Thank you for joining the discourse.

  3. Avatar of EKWEALOR Chinedu Thomas
    wrote on February 2nd, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    EKWEALOR Chinedu Thomas

    Hello Samuel, It is with a deep sense of responsibility that I appreciate your presentations. While I am confident that Child trafficking is issue of international importance in the present century, I expect you to locate the sources of these inhumane activities. Economic deprivation and marginalisation of any developing state by the “developed” states such as the United States of America, Britain and France, have been directly responsible for processing disruptions in the greater part of the world community. For Example the number of Child labourers, refugees and Internally Displaced persons in Sudan-Darfur and Libya between 2003 and 2011 is more that the number of citizens with normal life in these states. Accounts available on the world political scene have hugely suggested that US, France and Britain have authoured the conflicts that necessitated the inhuman conditions in the named states. So let your subsquent work have an attempt to locate the sources of the problems so that you can help action solutions to the observed demeanour. Otherwise well-done.

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 2nd, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Samuel Duru

      Hello Comrade Chinedu! Thanks for this earth-shaking comment! I have noted your suggestion.


    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 10th, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Samuel Duru

      @Hajdi: Thanks for sharing those touchy videos. In all honesty, the education of the child should command the greatest attention.

  4. Avatar of Nubi Kayode
    wrote on February 2nd, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Nubi Kayode

    True! This is a problem! Perhaps one that has become common place, because it’s no addressed properly, or just for the reason that we don’t care enough. Which ever the case may be, it’s not too much to talk about it, but more important to act on it – Act Right too. In my own little way, I use arts and other related media to express my perception on such issues as this which affect the community. I do go a little further in implementing project that are focused on community building and targeted at less privileged members of society – like these ones. Collaboration is a watchword, and all stakeholders – government, religious institution, NGOs, Social Entrepreneurs, and others need to come on board, sleeves up and work to stop this – not by fighting it with plaque-cards, but with empowering and creating a better environment and up-bring for these ones, the future generation.

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 10th, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Samuel Duru

      @Nubi: Child slavery has really become common place in our society, the reason being that we care less and act less. Thanks for reiterating the need for all hands to be on deck for result-oriented action in ensuring that children are raised in an atmosphere that guarantees their optimum and harmonious development. Thank you for the insightful contribution.

  5. Avatar of Rabiu Umar Maska
    wrote on February 3rd, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Rabiu Umar Maska

    Samuel I like you presentation simply because its an issue that deeply killing our society but we dont’ seems to understand due to ecomical problem and mental slavery syndrome. Until we do away with them trafficking (modern slavery) will keep on perpetuating and the end result will be ten times worse than the former colonial slavery. Thumb up!

  6. Avatar of Rabiu Umar Maska
    wrote on February 3rd, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Rabiu Umar Maska

    Samuel I like you presentation simply because its an issue that deeply killing our society but we dont’ seems to understand due to ecomical problem and mental slavery syndrome. Until we do away with them trafficking (modern slavery) will keep on perpetuating and the end result will be ten times worse than the former colonial slavery. Thumb up!

    Rabiu Umar Maska

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 10th, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Samuel Duru

      @Rabiu: I completely agree with you that poverty eradication is pivotal to ending all forms of modern day slavery. I like your mention of “mental slavery” which has also bedeviled many in our society, mainly as a result of hardship and not having basic education. I appreciate your input.

  7. Avatar of David von Burgsdorff
    wrote on February 3rd, 2012 at 9:44 am

    David von Burgsdorff

    Thank you Samuel for this important contribution. I agree with you that child labour and slavery is far too often overlooked and underestimated. It is indeed real, and is affecting millions of children in many parts of the world, from Africa to South Asia. It is clearly the result of extreme poverty and the desperation that it leads parents to. Parents need to be given viable alternatives to reverse this sad reality. In terms of all of our futures, improved access to free education for these children is the key.

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 10th, 2012 at 9:09 am

      Samuel Duru

      @David: Thank you David for identifying extreme poverty and its concomitant effect: desperation, as the major reason why parents haul their children to hawk on the streets. Truly, access to free education for children and provision of viable alternatives such as live-skills, employment, etc for parents are vital to reversing this tragic reality.

  8. Avatar of Hina Hazrat
    wrote on February 4th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Hina Hazrat

    Thank you Samuel for such wonderful contribution. It is true that child labour and slavery are affecting billions of young souls in many parts of this orb.
    It is absolutely right that access to free education for these children will play a positive role towards minimizing the high rate of this issue!
    Many best wishes from Pakistan, and this blog post is written wonderful and words are thoughtful.
    Hina Hazrat- Pakistan.

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 10th, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Samuel Duru

      @Hina: Thank you for affirming the role of access to free education as a panacea to mitigating the alarming rate of this social ill. Thanks for chiming in!

  9. Avatar of comrade okonta emeka okelum
    wrote on February 6th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    comrade okonta emeka okelum

    thanks, comrade sam am highly delighted by this piece you brought forward to the world, modern slavery is indeed a canker worm eating deep into the fabric of our national society, both the Nigerian elite and stakeholders have either turned a deaf ear or are ignorant of the effects of this evil, it is the frustration from this ill especially at individual levels as well as complete neglect of the citizens rights to good and affordable lifestyle that today we are witnessing societal evils like kidnapping, boko haram, disappearance of good governance land mark achievement in the public sector as well as the complete neglect of the organized private sector to impact in the lives of the people through the provisions of corporate social responsibility act.

    thx sam, i love ur spirit and the boldness behind this work.

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 10th, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Samuel Duru

      @Comrade Okonta: Thank you comrade for pointing out that the negligence of citizens’ rights to good and affordable lifestyle is the soil upon which social evils like, kidnapping, Boko Haram bombing, poor governance, inept public service and the likes, thrives. More so, thanks for stating the relevance of CSR in uplifting communities.

  10. Avatar of
    wrote on February 6th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Danna Joyce Chavez

    great insights, Sam :) I am happy that this topic, this article is paving the way for us to open our eyes and minds, take a step back, and look what is happening to our world. Indeed, modern slavery, especially on children, is a serious issue, and sometimes, we are not aware that it could be happening in our community. If we wait for the government to act, we are actually trimming down the lives of the many innocent children dreaming for better lives. Also, parents do play a huge role in the upbringing of their child. It is their responsibility to mold their children into proper members of the community.

    • Avatar of Samuel Duru
      wrote on February 10th, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Samuel Duru

      @Danna: Thanks for reiterating the fact that the evil of slavery exists around us, yet we keep quiet and do nothing. Also, thank you for reminding us that we shouldn’t wait for the Big Brother (the government) to do all that we need to do in order to put an end to this escalating evil. Leaving Big Brother to shoulder this problem alone will exacerbate the lot of millions of innocent children who deserve better lives. Worthy of praise also, is your mention of the need for parents to properly mold their children so that they will become responsible members of the community.

  11. Avatar of talktojoe2010
    wrote on February 8th, 2012 at 5:36 pm


    Sam, thank you for making a point here. I know this is a social menace that should be given urgent attention. Is high time we take the bull by the horn and stop baptizing certain issues with some other blended names.

  12. Avatar of nonso
    wrote on February 8th, 2012 at 5:55 pm


    Samuel u re write up is commendable, i have witnessed this child slavery once and i can agree with you that all hands must be on deck because this children have been overlooked. Apart from government a serious awareness should be keep in place to avert the ongoing negligence on children, for children have the same general human rights as adults. But children are particularly vulnerable and so they also have particular rights that recognize their special need for protection. Kudos my brother!

  13. Avatar of
    wrote on February 8th, 2012 at 7:00 pm


    Well I would call this not hot, but burning topic. You described cruel reality in today’s world. We are aware that this problem is here, just as you wrote victims very often stay silent.
    I think that vast majority of those victims are poor and non educated children. So, as one of the solutions in order to help in solving this burning question, for example, I see free education for everyone.
    If they will have opportunity to go to school, to socialize and learn some useful things, I believe those kids would not be victims anymore. Also, it will be great if all schools can adopt subjects with topics on anti corruption, anti-mafia things and so on.

    Great work Samuel.

  14. Avatar of
    wrote on February 9th, 2012 at 8:34 am


    Really nice article and very true for the developing countries like India. Though few foundations are working but the viscous cycle of poverty and capitalist profit oriented economy make it truly difficult.

    Nice sharing and this area deserved to be concerned and work out as soon as possible.

    Thanks Sam