Logo - Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

Slave children: The back door

exhibition + book + documentary available

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

Modern Slavery

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

Article 4 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948

Human trafficking for exploitation is a modern form of slavery and an appalling violation of human rights, especially when it affects the most vulnerable members of society: children. West Africa is the region with the world’s highest rate of child trafficking.

Slave children: The back door
exhibition + book + documentary available

What happens after a child in slavery escapes? How are their broken childhoods rebuilt? Is there a way out?

This documentary project documents the experience of thousands of children who are bought and sold as slaves in West Africa, the region with the world’s highest rate of child labour. Her work shows that there is a way out for these victims of modern slavery, a “back door” which some of them manage to find, open and step through to live their lives in freedom.

*In collaboration with: Salesian Missions, the Carmelite Sisters of Charity Vedruna and Mensajeros de la Paz.
Big thank you to UNICEF that has collaborated in the photo exhibition.

**The project is supported by: Grupo Henneo, Gesplaza 14, Fundación Tervalis, Anagán, Fundación Kyrene, Fundación Mémora and Saphir Parfums.
Big thank you to Deluxe Spain that has supported the film documentary.

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

“For many centuries, this region was the heart of the slave trade.

Today things have changed, but traditional practices and social perception with regard to children have not. It’s sad, but the truth is that sending a child from a poor home to a rich family is still considered part of tradition in the countries of origin, and now we

know that the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that the primary responsibility for the development, protection and education of a child lies with the family and the country of origin.

However, the population is ignorant of this. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is very clear. UNICEF’s mission is to remind the communities of origin, destination and transit that the rights of the child must be respected, and that it is in children’s best interest to be raised in their own community and with their own family, however limited their resources. There is no better place than their own home. And that is our struggle.”

Michel Ikamba, Chief of the Child Protection Section of the UNICEF Gabon Country Office.

Illustration: Andrea Trigo for “Slave Children: The Back Door” project.

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

Blessing is a fifteen-year-old orphan. She makes cassava paste to trade for food and a floor to sleep on. Some days her mistress gives her an hour off to go to a child protection centre, where she’s learning to read and write. The centre’s ultimate goal is to give child slaves the means of escaping from exploitation.

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

Each state considers implementing measures against trafficking in minors with the help of NGO and civil society. They ensure the integral protection of children who have been rescued, attending to their physical, psychological and social recovery by supplying a home, medical attention, psychology and material; and facilitating access to education and job opportunities. They also carry out an exhaustive search for family and analyse alternatives for reinsertion in society.

Illustration: Andrea Trigo for “Slave Children: The Back Door” project.

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

Le Ciel and L’Amour can finally rest and relax. At this reception centre, they feel safe. Before coming here they lived on the streets, in a perpetual state of fear. They slept out in the open and knew that they were vulnerable to any type of aggression, easy prey for thieves and rapists.

Child Slavery in Figures

As in 2023, about 160 million children around the world are engaged in child labour, working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, interfere with schooling, or harm their mental, physical, or social development, according to International Labour Organization (ILO).

72 million of which are in Africa, primarily in Sub-Saharan countries.

19,6 % of African minors–one out of every five–live in some form of slavery, the highest prevalence of child labour in the world.

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

From the car, Lavande and Marron glimpse the entrance to their village, Sedje Denou in Benin. When they left, they didn’t know they would end up being sold as slaves in Nigeria. Marron worked for a time at a biscuit stall until his masters, during one of many beatings, struck his head with a metal rod and he decided to run away.

Now, following their rehabilitation at the reception centre, the two are ready to go home. After several conversations with educators at the centre, their families have agreed not to resell them.

Slave children: the back door.
Documentary Trailer

Photography and video
Ana Palacios

Trailer Editor
Iván Castell

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

Sitting on his mother’s lap, Indigo hugs his brother, who was a new-born baby the last time he saw him. Reuniting children with their families is conducted as an official public event, where the village chief tells the child’s story to warn the community of the consequences of selling their sons and daughters. In this way, if the family breaks their promise and sells or exploits the child again, the neighbours can report them.

PapelLa nueva vida de los niños esclavos (The new life of enslaved children). July, 2017

Slave children - Project by Ana Palacios Visual Journalist

As Grenat’s father doesn’t know how to write, he uses his thumbprint to sign the agreement to take his son back in the presence of the entire village. To end child trafficking, governments, NGOs and society as a whole must be committed to a vital task: convincing peasants, potential slave owners–such as marketplace merchants–and the general populace that selling minors is illegal and violates the fundamental rights of the child.

Terra Mater – Schule Heisst Chance (School Means Opportunities). April, 2018 

Niños esclavos. Exposición. TVE1

Photography
Ana Palacios

Exhibition available

If you have made it this far and you enjoyed it, you should know there is an exhibition available of this project.

Please, feel free to contact me@ana-palacios.com for further details.

Exhibitions

2023
2023
June 1st to September 15th.

La habitación de juegos

Galería Luis Burgos. PhotoEspaña. Madrid.

see exhibition
2023
2023
May 18th to June 30th.

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. Cultural Center La Asunción at the Photo Festival Miradas. Albacete.

see exhibition
2022
2022

Slave Children: The back door

Centro Fundación Caja Rioja La Merced. Logroño.

see exhibition
2022
2022

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. Auditorio de Galicia. Santiago de Compostela.

2021
2021

Global Peace Photo Award

Collective exhibition. Willy-Brandt-Haus. Berlin, (Germany).

2021
2021

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. Okendo K.E. San Sebastián.

2021
2021

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. Archivo Municipal. Málaga.

2020
2020

Cinco miradas, cinco fotógrafas

Collective exhibition. Cultural House Teodoro Cuesta. Mieres, Asturias.

see exhibition
2019
2019

Slave Children: The back door

Museo Provincial. Teruel.

see exhibition
2019
2019

Slave Children: The back door

Antiguo Matadero. Huesca.

see exhibition
2019
2019

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. Museo Barjola. Gijón.

2019
2019

OpenWalls Awards‎

Collective exhibition. Galerie Huit. Arles (France).

see exhibition
2019
2019

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. La Lonja. Zaragoza.

2019
2019

International Photography Awards‎ (IPA). Annual Best of Show Exhibition

Collective exhibition. House of Lucie. Los Angeles (USA).

see exhibition
2019
2019

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. Círculo de Bellas Artes. Madrid.

see exhibition
2019
2019

Cinco miradas, cinco fotógrafas

Collective exhibition. Galería Ansorena. Madrid.

see exhibition
2019
2019

Mujeres fotógrafas aragonesas

Collective exhibition. La Lonja. Zaragoza.

2018
2018

Slave Children: The back door

UNED. Tudela (Navarra).

see exhibition
2018
2018

Slave Children: The back door

Centro CIVICAN. Pamplona.

see exhibition
2018
2018

Slave Children: The back door

Museo IAACC Pablo Serrano. Zaragoza.

see exhibition
2018
2018

Book presentation “Slave Children: The back door”

Matadero Madrid.

see exhibition
2018
2018

Book signing “Slave Children: The back door”

Visa pour l’Image festival. Perpignan. (France).

2018
2018

16th Annual Lucie Awards

Collective exhibition. Splashlight Studios. New York (USA).

see exhibition
2018
2018

Creadores de Conciencia

Collective exhibition. Palau Robert. Barcelona.

2018
2018

Iguales en Derechos. Abogacía por la Igualdad

Collective exhibition. Ciudad de la Justicia. Valencia.

2018
2018

Iguales en Derechos. Abogacía por la Igualdad

Collective exhibition. Paseo de Recoletos. Madrid.

2018
2018

Iguales en Derechos. Abogacía por la Igualdad

Collective exhibition. Paseo del Urumea. San Sebastián.

2018
2018

Paraty em Foco Festival Internacional de Fotografia

Collective exhibition. Paraty (Brasil).

see exhibition
2018
2018

Alfred Fried Photography Awards

Collective exhibition. Austrian Cultural Forum. Rome (Italy).

2018
2018

Iguales en Derechos. Abogacía por la Igualdad

Collective exhibition. Muelle Calderón. Santander.

2017
2017

Slave Children: The back door

Casa de las Culturas. Zaragoza.

see exhibition