Freedom from Slavery – Is It Possible?
September 22 | 11:30 - 12:30 AM | Room 3020
Until December 2005 child trafficking and slavery were not crimes in Cameroon. Despite the recognition as a crime, very few prosecutions have been made for child trafficking and enslavement in the country. This study examines the self-recovery efforts of survivors in the North West Region of Cameroon that has been identified as the main catchment area. It is a tracer study of the lives of 218 child slaves in the region aged 30 – 45 years old. Seventy-four percent of them are females and 26% are males.
This study looks at the economic, professional, and family lives of the survivors. Twenty-two percent of the women are married or stayed in a marriage for at least ten years. A shocking 48% of survivors have released their own children into slavery while 64% of the women embraced survival sex work in at some time in their lives.
Twenty-four percent of females became pregnant by their masters and/or relatives, yet less than 2% of these children recognize them. Economic desperation of survival sex workers, “prostitutes”, is very high with most of them living in slums, attempting to operate petty businesses. A few have become enslavers recruiting other desperate survivors into yet another budding form of secondary slavery where survivors lacking marketable skills become prostitutes under the control of an older and retired prostitute who sets the rules of the game. These rules promote peer monitoring and peer abuse of the slaves by each other.
The survey recommends long term recovery programs for victims and survivors of child trafficking as a major way to break the vicious cycle of childhood slavery in Cameroon.