Rotary Club of St Leonards

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AT its last meeting St Leonards Rotary Club, together with guests and members of all the local clubs, received a talk from Mark Little, a Norwich Rotarian and chairman of the Rotarian Action Group Against Child Slavery.

Although slavery is illegal in every nation, it still exists in every country. An estimated 27 million people are enslaved today. The majority are children who are increasingly exploited by unscrupulous land, factory and plantation owners.

In Africa, children languish as slaves in cocoa fields. In India, they suffer in carpet, clothing and firework factories, and in debt bondage on tea plantations, stone quarries and brick kilns.

In Haiti, they are abused in forced domestic servitude while in the Middle East they are strapped to camels and compelled to work as jockeys.

Across the globe, young girls and boys - sold for sex and labour - are the second most lucrative commodity for organised crime after drugs. Unlike drugs, children can be sold for use today (often several times) and sold again tomorrow.

The Rotarian Action Group seeks to raise awareness that millions of children are held captive and forced to work for commercial gain, encourage Rotarians to participate in projects which help to protect children from slavery and its consequences.

Its officers and coordinators are Rotarians in the UK, the United States, Italy, India, New Zealand, Zambia and South Africa.

Examples of successful projects – trafficking shelter for girls, Bihar, India, rehabilitation centre for boys, near Allahabad, India, and a trafficking shelter for children, Mae Suai, Thailand.

For other projects and further information go to www.racsrag.org.