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And the slaves of today

A little considered type of child slavery poorly kept in mind is the one found in countries like India and Nepal, where hundreds of children are exploited in circuses. To try to deal with the phenomenon, the NGO Esther Benjamin Trust was founded, which, in addition to reporting these situations, gives shelter to the victims. The exact figures are not known, but the NGO estimates that each year there are at least 500 young children exploited in circus activities including variety shows, acrobatics and contortionism. These are usually under age Nepalese abducted from poor villages in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the kidnappers arrive, promising the parents that their children will become circus artists. In exchange for thirty dollars, they ask for a signature on a document written entirely in English, therefore incomprehensible to the parents, and they take the children away. Once in India, children are reduced to slavery, enduring abuse of every kind. Esther Benjamin Trust has so far managed to rescue 700 child victims, hosting sixty of them in a secret hideaway outside Kathmandu. More generally, the scourge of child labour in these areas is increasing: there are 20 million child workers in Indian factories and two hundred thousand Nepalese slaves who do not earn a penny while working fifteen hours a day.

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Nov. 20, 2019

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