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Kyrgyz children slaves liberated in Russia

In an illegal sewing factory in the town of Noginsk in the Moscow region, investigators found 15 exhausted Kyrgyz children aged from 11 to 17 who were forced to work long hours with little food and even less money.

The children were selected by ruthless employees who target poor families, telling them their children would be well looked after – but the reality is often very different. Children from Kyrgyzstan claim they worked twelve hours a day and were frequently physically abused.

“The parents were promised that the children will work with two days off a week, paid salaries and be provided with an opportunity to communicate with parents,” said Anastasia Lokteva, Press Officer for the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “In reality, the children were kept in barrack-like buildings, worked 12-hour night shifts, and ate twice a day mainly mayonnaise and bread.”

“I began working when I was 15,” said one of the underage slaves. “I came here with my brother. We work 12 hours a day.”

It is thought that around 2,000 children work as slaves in factories similar to this one throughout Russia, and without proper regulation and enforcement the problem will keep on growing. Over the past several years, there has been an increasing movement to combat human trafficking, but despite these efforts there are still basic issues that need to be tackled.

“We propose to toughen responsibility of employees, first of all, it should be criminal responsibility with serious administrative fines for the use of illegal workers,” said the Director of Moscow’s Bureau of Human Rights, Aleksandr Brod. “Second, the law enforcement agencies should work well and very precise procedures should be conducted on the state borders, as we are aware of corruption when law enforcement officials openly provide protection for such factories. They just receive money illegally for such services and close their eyes.”

In the past few years, the number of cases investigated has remained low and the number of people who are sentenced is even lower.

For the time being, these boys have escaped a life of modern day slavery, but there remain thousands of other children still caught in the trap.