Editing Office - New York
When a 15 year old Vietnamese girl, Sao, was tricked by her friend and sold into China to another family, her life was changed forever. Sao fell pregnant to her new husband, gave birth to a baby girl, and was shortly afterwards sold to work in a winter coat factory.A Nigerian girl pregnant with twins after being forced into prostitution in Italy © Alessio RomenziShe eventually found an opportunity to escape back to Vietnam, also managing to rescue a neighbour who was in the same situation. Agonisingly, she was forced to make the heart-breaking decision to leave her little girl behind.Sao’s story – tragically one of 40 million around the globe - was told by Diep Vuong, the president and co-founder of Pacific Links Foundation. She was speaking at a panel discussion with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet last week, focusing on eradicating slavery through the participation of survivors and also through the Sustainable Development Goals.
For the last four years, the Pacific Links Foundation has been supported by the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.*Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 40 million men, women and children are enslaved. This includes 25 million in forced labour, and 15 million in forced marriage. One in four victims are children.‘Contemporary forms of slavery’ manifest in different ways, including forced labour, forced marriage, other slavery and slavery like practices, and human trafficking. It also covers debt bondage, when a person is tricked into working for little or no pay, with no control over their debt. Essentially, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), it refers to ‘situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.’ “Enslavement is among the gravest and most comprehensive violations of human dignity,” said Bachelet at the panel discussion. “It has been recognised as a crime against humanity. Freedom from slavery is a human right with no derogation permitted, on any basis. The continued enslavement of millions of people is a shocking indictment of all our societies.”
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