Slavery and Sexual Exploitation
When we think of slavery, we think of William Wilberforce and his colleagues and their great success in the passing of the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery in 1833. It must therefore, no longer exist? But it does.
It does through:
bonded labour, where a person and their family is forced into servitude to pay off a debt when they have no hope of ever paying it off completely.
migrant workers, whose passports are confiscated by their employers.
domestic servants, kept in captivity.
child slavery where children are 'adopted' for use as slaves. Also where children are kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers.
forced marriage including the selling of wives.
Sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities reluctant to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitation. These attitudes make children more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Myths, such as the belief that HIV/AIDS can be cured through sex with a virgin, technological advances such as the Internet which has facilitated child pornography, and sex tourism targeting children, all add to their vulnerability.
- In Lithuania, 20 to 50 percent of prostitutes are believed to be minors. Children as young as age 11 are known to work as prostitutes. Children from children's homes, some 10 to 12 years old, have been used to make pornographic films. (UNICEF)
Beginning of Life (BOL), Moldova, work to bring healing and restoration to young girls rescued from a life of abuse and sexual exploitation. It is estimated that since the break up of the Soviet Union, between 200,000 and 400,000 Modovan women have been sold into prostitution. Girls can come to the BOL safe house between the ages of 14-30 and stay for about a year. Minors under the age of 18 who have been abused by their family are able to stay until they are 18. During this time, they are able to access education and prepare for independent life, with a job and their own accommondation.
BOL also works with local churches to make them aware of the dangers to young people of sexual exploitation and also educating congregations regarding moral issues and judgemental attitudes.
BOL's Escape magazine was distributed free of charge to over 16,000 young people in 180 schools and colleges in the last year. The main goal of Escape is to raise awareness among young people about issues such as human trafficking and family violence and to create a healthy non-consumeristic worldview based on Christian values and the philosophy of a simple lifestyle. The principal of one of the government high schools said of the magazine: "It provides real positive and moral values. It really aims to change the world view of young people. We even use some articles for our out of school activities".