Conditions of Child Slavery
By Omar Rais

January 23, 2008
His legs and hands are aching, he hears his masterís harsh yelling, he is fighting back tears, he wonders if he will get something to eat, he wonders if he will ever see his family again, he wonders if he will ever be free. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, today I would like to talk to you about the world of 200 million children who are suffering from mental, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, who are suffering from horrible working conditions, who are suffering from harsh punishments, who are suffering from unfairness; these children are suffering from slavery. A slave is anyone who is paid none or very little for a job they are forced to do. However, my article is not on all slavery but only on child slavery. Child slavery does not occur in only one place, but all over the world. In Asia, many children are forced to work in carpet factories. The rooms are cramped, dark and feel almost airless. The tools that the children use are sharp and they often cut themselves. If the children get cut, hot oil is poured into the wound so that their blood does not stain the wool. The hot oil seals the wound but it also stings. Naturally the child screams. For screaming they usually give the child a hard smack on the head. There are also many harsh punishments such as lashing, hitting, getting chained to the loom, vicious beatings in a dark closet known as the ďpunishment roomĒ and getting hanged upside down. For children like us, itís hard to even imagine punishments like these. For us, a punishment is simply that some of our privileges are taken away. These kids donít even have any privileges. Punishments are not the only issue. There are also some health issues. The children inhale little pieces of fiber and this leads to many breathing problems. Another health issue is the way the environmental conditions ruin the childrenís posture and growth. When they are fully grown, they are still petite. Many child laborers are debt bonded. Their parents are poor and borrow money from factory owners. Not just carpet factory owners but other types of factory owners too. In exchange for the borrowed money, the parents give the factory owner one of their children to work until the debt is fulfilled. However, the debt is constantly growing because of interest and very small portions of food given by the owner to the children. Because of the debtís constant growth, the children are never able to pay it back. This practice of trading children for money is illegal in the countries that it is practiced in. But, it still happens. For many poor children living in villages in Pakistan, India or Nepal, going to work in factories is thought to be a normal part of growing up. Carpet factory laboring is not the only form of child slavery. There is textile factory laboring, stone crusher factory laboring, brick factory laboring, thieves, camel jockies, silver smiths, domestic slavery and even child prostitution. These are just examples of forms of child slavery. But donít think that child slavery canít stop. Iqbal Masih, a 12 year old boy, a freed carpet factory laborer, has freed thousands of children. Today there are many organizations trying to stop child slavery. You can donate to such an organization to help free a child. It is agreed that all children have the right to enough food, clean water and health care. They have the right to an adequate standard of living, they have the right to protection from any type of exploitation or abuse, they have the right to protection when exposed to armed or unarmed conflict, they have the right to protection from discrimination, and they have the right to be protected from work that threatens their education, health or development. They have the right to be with their family or whoever will care for them best, they have the right to play, they have the right to education, they have the right of having their opinions taken into account in decisions affecting their lives, and they have the right to know what their rights are. If children have these rights, then why donít the 200 million children who are currently living the lives of slaves have these rights? For what reason are they robbed of their childhood, for what reason are they robbed of their health, for what reason are they robbed of their education, for what reason are they robbed of their rights, for what reason are they robbed of their freedoms? I hope my piece has had some kind of positive effect on the issue of child slavery. Thank you for your time and attention.

Back to Article List