Upstream founder, Chalermkwan (Amm) Chutima wrote this article which was first published here.
A common Bible story we read to our kids is the account of a boy who had a coat of many colors. Kids learn that this boy, seventeen-year-old Joseph, was sold by his older brothers as slave to tend the house of an Egyptian nobleman (Gen. 37, 29). We often use Joseph’s story to teach children about God’s sovereignty in all circumstances, but sometimes we overlook an important word within that narrative: slave. Because slavery is a horror many endure today, Joseph’s story is an opportunity for children to study and understand even modern-day slavery so they may develop a heart that longs to bring freedom to the oppressed.
What is Modern Slavery?
Modern slavery, trafficking in persons, and human trafficking have been used as umbrella terms for the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. The Global Slavery Index reports that up to 45.8 million people globally live in modern slavery through hard labor, human trafficking, forced marriages, forced labor, child labor, or debt bondage. Nearly one in three victims of slavery is a child, some as young as five or six years old.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), however, there are more than 200 million child laborers around the world. Child labor is not always considered slavery, but it nevertheless hinders their development and is against their rights. One example is children who work below the legal age for employment and miss opportunities to go to school. The ILO also reports that of the children in child labor, some 115 million are engaged in hazardous work that irreversibly threatens their health and development through exposure to dangerous machinery or toxic substances, and may even endanger their lives.