Mission World - June 2012
Rome (FIDES) – On April 16th, the World Day against Child Slavery, was celebrated. According to the Spanish Confederation of Religious Orders (CONFER), there are about 400 million children worldwide living in conditions of slavery. Many work for the manufacture of products which are then sold in Europe and the rest of the West.
In their statement, they highlighted how "indirectly, this slavery becomes part of our daily lives, the bananas we eat or the coffee we drink might have been produced by the sweat of Latin American and African children."
"It may well happen that the carpets on which we walk have been woven by little Pakistani slaves; curtains, t-shirts, jewellery and many other things could be the result of illegal forced labour using Indian children" continues CONFER. For this reason, they invite everyone not to "spare any effort to solicit civil authorities to fulfil their responsibility to fight against these injustices and to give all children the legal protection they deserve."
The date of the celebration of this day is not random. It dates back to the killing of Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old Pakistani Christian boy, killed on April 16, 1995 by his country's textile mafia because he had denounced this exploitation. Iqbal had worked as a slave in the textile industry since the age of 4.
After he escaped at the age of 10, he gave a testimony of his experience speaking in parliaments and universities in the United States and the European Union. Despite the years of struggle, international legislation, complaints and support programmes for the young in precarious situations, slavery continues to spread.
CONFER denounces that the phenomenon is particularly widespread in India and Afghanistan, where boys and girls work in the construction industry. In Brazil, these small slaves produce the coal used for the manufacture of steel for cars and other mechanical parts.
In Myanmar children are exploited for the collection of sugarcane and other agricultural products. In China they prepare explosives and fireworks used for pyrotechnics.
In Sierra Leone they are exploited for the extraction of diamonds from the mines. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of children are enslaved for the extraction of essential minerals used for computers, mp3s, mobile phones and many other tools that are used every day in the so-called first world.
In Benin and Egypt, it is estimated that one million children are forced to work in the cotton industry because they cost less and are more obedient than adults, as well as having the right size to nestle between the trees.
Finally, the report by the religious says, in Cote d'Ivoire, about 12,000 children collect cocoa seeds that are exported for the elaboration of chocolate.
Mission Intention for June
That Christians in Europe may discover their true identity and participate with greater enthusiasm in the proclamation of the Gospel.