Slavery still exists today and is imposed on millions of people, particularly children from poverty-stricken families in developing world countries, such as Guinea-Bissau in Africa. Guinea-Bissau, one of the five poorest countries in the world, has great inequality of income distribution.

Parents believe an education will ensure their children's survival. However, to human traffickers, desperation is a bargaining tool. Parents send their children away with "marabouts" or religious instructors, deceived into thinking their children will receive a religious education.

The marabouts traffic the students, or "talibés", within the country or to Senegal over poorly guarded borders. These children never see their parents again. Orphaned, alone, abused, their childhood is stolen from them. Forced to beg for 12 hours a day and risking physical abuse, the children must collect a certain daily quota of money.

He spent approximately two to three years there, before being returned to Guinea-Bissau by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2004, Unicef estimated there were 100,000 child beggars in Senegal (almost 1% of the population), most from Guinea-Bissau. Increasingly, police and local leaders are trying to prevent children being smuggled to Senegal's cotton fields and the streets of Dakar. The IOM, Unicef and local NGOs have held workshops to inform police, the government and local leaders that child trafficking is a crime. Villagers now tip off police about traffickers.

The measures appear to be having some impact. The UN Non-Government Liaison Service said: "After much neglect and indifference, the world is waking up to the reality of modern slavery. 54% of responding countries established an anti-human trafficking police unit, developing a national action plan to deal with trafficking." Yet for many children across Guinea-Bissau, help is unlikely to come soon enough. Children will continue to be exploited until the issue of trafficking is seriously acknowledged and addressed.

Often youth talk about ?having rights,? but the Youth for Human Rights program, inspirited by L. Ron Hubbard, gets them to not only know their 30 human rights, but to see that others have rights too, which is key to reducing violent acts and crimes. More information www.youthforhumanrights.org