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Kwame and Joe

In 2016, the estimates of modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaved population. As evident from surveys conducted in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia by Walk Free Foundation, slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa takes the form of forced labour and forced marriage. In Ghana, survey results suggest that there are an estimated 103,300 people enslaved in that country, of which 85 percent are in forced labour, and 15 percent are in forced marriage. For forced labour, the main industries of concern are farming and fishing, retail sales and then manual labour and factory work. In Nigeria, survey results suggest that forced labour is predominantly within the domestic sector, although it was impossible to survey in three regions due to high conflict. In South Africa, the industries most reported in the survey include the commercial sex industry, manual labour industries such as construction, manufacturing and factory work, and drug trafficking. Kwame, 14, and Joe, 12, were sold by their mother to a fisherman in Ghana.

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Jasmine

Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most widespread for of modern slavery with an 84% of victims trafficked for this purpose. The majority of those trafficked for this purpose are women and young girls who often originate from Eastern Europe within the EU as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of people being trafficked from Nigeria to various parts of Europe including Italy, France, Spain and the UK through an array of complex trafficking networks.  Jasmine was sold to a man when she was 5 years old. At the age of 9 she was taken to Italy and forced to be a prostitute. At 15 years old she was brought to the UK where her sexual exploitation continued. Jasmine was finally able to escape when she came back after being with a client to an empty house. It was at this time that she decided to run away. 

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Mabel

On Lake Volta in Ghana, child slaves are forced to work day and night on dangerous and deadly fishing boats. Mabel was one of them, trafficked into slavery by her own impoverished family. Mabel was forced into labor off the boat, too. She was forced to work around the clock. Early in the morning, she was forced to collect wood and cook maize porridge. She was forced to make lunch and dinner for workers on the boats. She was beaten and abused. Late at night Mabel was forced to go out fishing on the dangerous lake. Today she is free and getting an education.

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Kwasi

Kwasi spent three years in slavery on Lake Volta and was rescued in 2006 by the Association of People for Practical Life Education (APPLE), a small nonprofit organization that works directly with the fishermen and children.

Along Ghana’s Lake Volta, slave children work long hours mending, setting and pulling nets, cleaning and smoking fish, and rowing the fishing boats. Boys as young as six are forced to dive to disentangle nets caught on tree stumps below this large man-made lake. The fishermen tie weights to the children to help them descend more quickly. When the water is too cold or the children get caught in the nets below it is not uncommon to find bodies washed up on the shores. If sick or injured, the children receive no care or treatment. While most of the enslaved children are boys, some girls are used for domestic work and to sell the fish in the market. Like other trafficked girls in Ghana, they are likely to be sexually abused as well.

Lake Volta is one of the world’s largest lakes and used to be a source of fish for both the national and export markets. But in the 1960s a dam slowed the vigorous flow of water and destroyed the fishing potential of nearby communities. Facing a newly impoverished environment, some fishermen began to enslave children rather than pay adult workers. With schooling hard to obtain and family incomes around the starvation level, parents will sometimes agree to let their children go in order to gain an “advance” on their child’s labor. Normally, the fishermen promise that more money will be paid to the parents over the next year. The money never comes.

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Kwame

Kwame was trafficked in 1998 and spent eight years with the same master as a slave at Lake Volta. He was rescued in 2006 by the Association of People for Practical Life Education (APPLE), a small nonprofit organization that works directly with the fishermen and children.

Along Ghana’s Lake Volta, slave children work long hours mending, setting and pulling nets, cleaning and smoking fish, and rowing the fishing boats. Boys as young as six are forced to dive to disentangle nets caught on tree stumps below this large man-made lake. The fishermen tie weights to the children to help them descend more quickly. When the water is too cold or the children get caught in the nets below it is not uncommon to find bodies washed up on the shores. If sick or injured, the children receive no care or treatment. While most of the enslaved children are boys, some girls are used for domestic work and to sell the fish in the market. Like other trafficked girls in Ghana, they are likely to be sexually abused as well.

Lake Volta is one of the world’s largest lakes and used to be a source of fish for both the national and export markets. But in the 1960s a dam slowed the vigorous flow of water and destroyed the fishing potential of nearby communities. Facing a newly impoverished environment, some fishermen began to enslave children rather than pay adult workers. With schooling hard to obtain and family incomes around the starvation level, parents will sometimes agree to let their children go in order to gain an “advance” on their child’s labor. Normally, the fishermen promise that more money will be paid to the parents over the next year. The money never comes.