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Kanthi

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.Kanthi spent more than two years in domestic servitude in US after being trafficked from her home in Sri Lanka under false pretenses. This narrative is taken from an interview by Julie Fernandes as part of a webcast by Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST). Kanthi discusses what the most important services are for those coming out of slavery, and the barriers that people must overcome in order to remove themselves from situations of slavery.

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Manju

Manju was abducted and forced to work for a year as a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 17, one of hundreds of thousands of children who participate in armies and armed groups in more than 30 countries around the world. The problem is most critical in Africa, where up to 100,000 children are estimated to be involved in armed conflict. Child soldiers also exist in Afghanistan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, though international law sets 18 as the minimum age for all participation in hostilities. In Sri Lanka, children as young as nine were abducted and used in combat by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during its conflict with the Sri Lankan government, between 1983 and 2002. Children—most aged 14 or 15 and over 40 percent girls—were used for massed frontal attacks in major battles, and some between the ages of 12 and 14 were used to massacre women and children in rural villages. Others were used as human mine detectors, assassins and suicide bombers. A ceasefire was implemented in February 2002, this did not halt the LTTE’s use of child soldiers. Children were then more likely to be forcibly recruited: people saw no reason to give their children to the LTTE if they did not perceive themselves to be at risk from the government, and so the LTTE resorted to abduction. In 1994, one in 19 child recruits was abducted. By 2004, only one in 19 was a volunteer.

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Abirami

Without parents to care for her, Abirami was forced to live at a relative’s house from a young age, where she suffered abuse and was later prevented from attending school so she could perform domestic duties for the family. She ran away to become a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 13. Although Abirami joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) movement voluntarily, rather than being abducted like many other children, her recruitment at such a young age is against international law and now considered a war crime. Having now left the LTTE, Abirami discusses the possibilities of what she might do next and struggles to imagine her future.

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Vasanthi

Vasanthi became a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 10. She was one of hundreds of thousands of children who participate in armies and armed groups in more than 30 countries around the world. The problem is most critical in Africa, where up to 100,000 children are estimated to be involved in armed conflict. Child soldiers also exist in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, even though international law sets 18 as the minimum age for all participation in hostilities.

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Sabitha-Jayanthi

Sabitha-Jayanthi became a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 13. In Sri Lanka, children as young as nine have been abducted and used in combat by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE used children as soldiers throughout its conflict with the Sri Lankan government, between 1983 and 2002. Children—most aged 14 or 15 and over 40 percent girls—were used for massed frontal attacks in major battles, and some between the ages of 12 and 14 were used to massacre women and children in rural villages. Others were used as human mine detectors, assassins and suicide bombers. A ceasefire was implemented in February 2002, but this didn’t halt the LTTE’s use of child soldiers. In fact, children were more likely to be forcibly recruited: people saw no reason to give their children to the LTTE if they did not perceive themselves at risk by the government, and so the LTTE resorted to abduction. In 1994, one in 19 child recruits was abducted. By 2004, only one in 19 was a volunteer.