What is Child Slavery?

Child slavery is categorized as the worst form of child labor, along with debt bondage, forced labor, child soldiers, prostitution, pornography and trafficking.1 Though it has been officially outlawed, there are numerically more slaves today than at any time in history.2

Today’s slavery often takes form in workplaces such as sweatshops, mines, brothels, fishing boats and agricultural fields. Enslaved children are forced to work for long hours in deplorable conditions, and, at night, they are locked up to keep them from escaping.

Here are four examples of child slavery:

Twin brothers Aimamo and Ibrahim were 16 years old when they left Gambia for Libya in search of a better life. They were promised good jobs. Instead, they endured beatings and threats, and they were locked up at night to keep them from escaping.3

Ashmita became a household slave at a young age. She was forced to clean her master’s home from early morning until night. She was beaten and slapped. Ashmita was eventually rescued and cared for in a GFA-supported house for at-risk girls.4

Nadish was held as a slave for two years—ages 9-11. He was locked overnight in a room. During the day, he cleaned up animal waste. He was given very little food. Nadish was able to escape and find his way back to his family. GFA missionaries showed Nadish love and helped comfort him during his recovery.5

GFA missionaries are on the front lines helping child slaves. They help give children and families hope for a better future by offering educational help, daily meals, medical care and school supplies. This eases the family’s financial burden and encourages the children to stay in school. Through GFA programs, children learn the dangers of trafficking and how to stay safe from predators.

Through GFA World’s ministry, children and their families receive not only practical help, but they also hear about God’s love for them. “It’s amazing how the love of Christ brings hope to the poorest of society and fills the hearts of these children with joy,” says Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder and director of GFA World.6

Support GFA World and their fight against child labor.

Learn more about child labor definition

1 “Convention on Worst Forms of Child Labour Receives Universal Ratification.” United Nations. 4 August 2020. https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/08/1069492.
2 “There Are More Slaves Today Than Any Other Point in History.” USA Today. May 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/world/2017/02/23/there-more-slaves-today-than-any-other-point-history/98292582/.
3 “Harrowing Journeys.” UNICEF. September 2017. http://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/media/1180/harrowing-journeys_children-and-youth-on-the-move-across-the-mediterranean.pdf.
4 “Young Child Laborer Finds New Life.” GFA World. June 2017. https://www.gfa.org/news/articles/wfr17-13-1-young-child-laborer-finds-new-life/.
5 “Child Escapes from Kidnapper after Two Years of Forced Labor.” GFA World. 2 May 2011. https://www.gfa.org/news/articles/child-escapes-kidnapper-after-two-years-forced-labor/.
6 Holt, Palmer. “Modern Day Slavery Speeds up Under Cover of Covid-19.” 17 December 2020. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/21st-century-slavery-human-trafficking/#stories-statistics-solutions.
* Cover Photo by ILO Asia-Pacific, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)