Human rights

Child slavery (prostitution) By Lucia Pennisi 8 orange

In Australia we take our basic human rights for granted for example, we have laws dictating at what age people are aloud to work and activities they are involved in. This protects exploitation of weak and vulnerable children. In many other countries such as Asia and Africa children as young as 5 are forced to work in dumps or huge factories simply because they are impoverished and culture dictates that their family can send them to work.

Children forced to work for low wages or often none at all is referred to as ‘Child Slavery’. Many families have sold their children into slavery in order to repay debts or to earn money if they are short in cash. Or sometimes they even sell them off because they think it will be a better environment for them, but for most deals this is not the case.

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Recently I have read a book about a girl being sold in prostitution it is called ‘Sold’. In a small village in Nepal lives a 13 year old girl, Lakshimi. Her family is extremely poor but her life is full of simple pleasures; having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp and playing hopscotch with her best friend. But then harsh Himalaya’s monsoons wash away all her families crops and her stepfather demands she must take a job to support the family. She is tricked by her ‘aunty’ telling her she will be a maid employed by a rich family with golden roofs, but after weeks of travelling and crossing the border she realises this is not right.

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Some of Lakshimis roommates believe their life is cruel and unfair but others were born into prostitution and dont know any different. The girls have to pay off Mumtaz (their owner) the girls purchase price, Mumtaz locks the girls in the house, beats and starves them until they have no energy to resist prostitution. Lakshimi is well educated and quite clever with maths, she soon works out she will pay off the debts within a year. Her calculations give her hope and she dreams of going home to her family. However the evil Mumtaz charges her exorbitant costs of living and rigs the books so that the girls are enslaved forever. They will never be free from the house unless they contract ‘The virus’ and get thrown out on the street (they fear this even more than remaining inside- the city is cruel and as they are poor, they will starve).

Mumtaz feels no compassion for the girls, she enjoys punishing them. It makes her feel strong and lines her purse with many rupees. Mumtaz likes the lifestyle she can afford by having the girls work hard for her, she does not fear the police as they are corrupt and she can bribe them with the riches she earns by exploiting the young girls. Virgins fetch her the highest price of all, she purchases girls that are 11 years old and tells them to lie and say they are 12.

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It is estimated 1.2 million children in India are still involved in prostitution as the government is corrupt. Prostitution is illegal in Nepal but not in India. This is why children are coxed across the border under the false pretences (ie; maid work). Even though the Indian government signed the "Immoral Traffic Prevention Act" (ITPA) which states that children under 18 cannot be confined to a house/bribed with money or gifts or influenced to provide sex- it is rarely enforced and police officers are bribed to turn a blind eye.

Older women or retired sex workers are taking it upon themselves to station and patrol the borders warning young girls of their fate in an attempt to make a difference. Socially the people of India are also distributing condoms to brothels and verbally educating young girls about STD/STI’s in an attempt to prevent diseases.

Hopefully over time and with more education the culture in India will change. While we are powerless to make a country enforce our own human rights I wish for the future generations for children to be treated equally and to grow up in a safe environment without exploitation.

Some action other countries can take to push for change is to sign petitions aiming to improve the treatment of children under 18. They can also donate to charities helping women to escape prostitution (such as ‘CNN Freedom Project’, and ‘’), and to volunteer educating others about the facts and need for reform. I dream for a world where young children are free to grow and enjoy their childhood without the pressure of slavery, slave labor and sexual abuse in equally- in every country.


All my information is from, The book sold by Patricia McCormick based on true stories after studying in Nepal and India where she interveiwed the women of Culcutta's red-light district and girls who have been rescued from sex trade,,