Benin, Benin, West Africa, child traffickers, Dan Tokpa
Child Slaves in Benin West Africa : February 2007Child labour working in Benin West Africa young kids working in the forge in Dan Tokpa market, Cotouno.HIDDEN away in a corner of this foul and sprawling market, boys as young as five toil in the festering heat.Before you see the faces of these wretched children, you hear the sound of their enslavement - the clamour of heavy lead hammers on sheets of metal.Barefoot and ragged, these youngsters were sold for just ??10 by their parents to child traffickers who sell them on to work without pay and without hope in demeaning sweatshops.Mamoutche, a frightened and timid eight-year-old tells us about his grim life. I work here every day from when it is light till it gets dark," he says. "I've no choice. I was brought here by a trafficker from the north of Benin. My parents couldn't afford to look after me any more and this man told them he would take me to earn money and get an education. I miss my friends and family but I don't know how to escape."He adds: "I feel so lonely. I cannot believe that my own family would let me go just for money."Beside him a group of youngsters smack chisels into wheel rims to split them apart. Others melt down strips of aluminium to be re-shaped into cooking pots.The children with the toughest jobs squat beside a blisteringly hot forge working bellows, their little bodies scarred with burn marks. Sweat pours down their faces as they toil in the ferocious heat.This is the bleak reality of West Africa's child-trafficking industry, 21st-century slavery that shames both Benin and its neighbours."
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