SPAIN: New documentary shines light on child slavery in Africa, work of Salesian programs
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Missions office in Madrid, Spain has been working with photojournalist Ana Palacios on a documentary “Child slaves, the back door” about child trafficking. The documentary notes there are some 152 million child slaves in the world, 72 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. It also notes that 50 percent of these 152 million children are between five and eleven years old.
As the documentary notes, human trafficking is considered modern slavery. The term “trafficking” is used in contexts such as trafficking in human beings, forced labor, exploitation of minors, recruitment of child soldiers, child marriages, begging, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation. The common denominator of all these crimes is that the forms of exploitation are varied and different.
Further, according to a 2016 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the vast majority of all human trafficking victims, some 71 percent, are women and girls. Globally 28 percent of trafficking victims are children, but children account for 62 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 64 percent in Central America and the Caribbean.
Thanks to the work of the photojournalist Ana Palacios, the slavery, release, rehabilitation and return of the child victims of human trafficking in West Africa to their families are documented through a book, a documentary and a photographic exhibition that will be presented in June 2018.
Thousands of children are trafficked every year on the west coast of Africa, usually sold by their families in exchange for about thirty euros and the vague promise of a better life for the child. Instead children are sold into slavery and experience physical and psychological abuse and work in solitude far away from the family and places of origin. If the child is female, she is often living as a domestic slave, forced to help in the commercial activities of the family and often subject to sexual abuse.
“All youth deserve a life that is free of exploitation and abuse,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian programs around the globe connect with children who have been forced into labor, faced physical and emotional abuse and sexual exploitation. Programs provide psychological support and a place for children to live safely while basic needs are met. They can then connect with educational programs and gain an education.”
#TheBackdoorProject shows the work of three Spanish non-governmental organization and religious institutions, including Salesian Missions in Madrid. Salesian reception centers ensure the full transitional protection of these children and carry out research to find their families or to offer alternatives for the social reintegration of youth, while also offering them education and social development services to meet their basic needs.
With this new project, Ana Palacios tells the life stories of more than 50 child slaves who managed to find, open and go beyond that “back door” to recover their interrupted childhood.
The project is the result of three years of work, four study trips and five months spent in the field connecting with child slaves in Togo, Benin and Gabon, thanks to the support of Salesian Missions office in Madrid, the Carmelite Sisters of Charity of Vedruna, the Messengers of Peace and with the support of UNICEF.
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