While the world’s attention is turned to the subject of child slavery through the abduction of 276 Nigerian girls by the Boko Haram terrorist group and the subsequent #BringBackOurGirls twitter and media campaign, there is an opportunity to raise awareness to the fact that, although this is an appalling incident, it is far from a unique one.
In fact, the International Rescue Committee has found that between 700,000 to 4 million persons worldwide are trafficked across or within national borders every year. ‘Human trafficking’ being pretty much a synonym for modern day slavery, with the victims often being coerced into both sexual and labor slavery.
In Africa, for example during Sierra Leone’s civil war, in contravention to international law at least 10,000 girls and boys were abducted and recruited by both government and rebel forces. As both victims and aggressors in the war, these young people served as armed combatants, sexual slaves, human shields, cooks, spies and porters. While it is laudable that a twitter campaign by well meaning NGO’s, celebrities and Michelle Obama is bringing awareness to the terrible plight of the Nigerian girls, the World’s media has been almost completely silent about these other stories.
Whilst the response to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has been undoubtedly heartfelt, it has also generated a great deal of outcry for military intervention into Nigeria by the US and other countries, as well as demands for violent retribution against the perpetrators. In addition it has been used for the vilification and abuse of all Muslims, ignoring the obvious fact that Boko Haram are not practicing any form of Islam that would be recognised by the overwhelming vast majority of Muslims.
If we want to do more that just tweet about this subject, there are practical ways that we can directly help the victims of Child sexual slavery.
For example, since 1999, the IRC’s Child Protection Program in Sierra Leone has helped facilitate disarmament and demobilization of some 2,000 child combatants, and provided them with emergency aid in interim care centers.
‘To date, we have successfully traced and reunified 1,157 of these children and adolescents with their families and helped them with the difficult process of adjusting to life in their communities. The IRC has also sponsored 93 small-scale reintegration projects in communities where the children are returning.’
By donating to the IRC, we can bring back all of the these kids! Yes, let’s campaign to bring back the kidnapped Nigerian girls, but let’s also use this moment to bring the necessary awareness to the much bigger problem of child sex slavery everywhere and do something more about it than just tweeting. #BringBackAllKids!
Donate here: https://engage.rescue.org/donate
More info on the Sierra Leone program:
More info on Human Trafficking: