Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery

by Susan Kuklin

Susan Kuklin has written a consciousness-raiser and a call to action for young readers... read more

Susan Kuklin has written a consciousness-raiser and a call to action for young readers as she tells the story of, Iqbal Masih, a child laborer in Pakistan, and details the tragedy of bonded child labor in southern Asia. She writes of the horrors of child slavery and the dedication of those who have worked within these countries to free children from bondage. Iqbal was sold into bondage at age 4 and freed at age 10 by the actions of Pakistani activists calling for enforcement of laws to free children in bondage. At age 11, he received the Reebok Youth in Action Human Rights Award for his own efforts to educate others and free children still in bondage. When he was 12, he was shot and killed under circumstances that may or may not have been accidental. Drawing on interviews with and articles about Iqbal, conversations with those who knew him, and research into child slavery and activist movements, Kuklin has written a narrative both compelling and compassionate. She places child slavery in an economic context by chronicling the cycle of poverty that leaves families dependent on the money that comes from "selling" their children into bondage, and in a global context by connecting products made by children in bondage--especially carpets-- to consumers in the United States and other countries who purchase these lower-priced items. Kuklin also acknowledges the West's own exploitation of children as laborers during the industrial revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Above all, she honors young adults' strong sense of justice and compassion by empowering them to help make a difference if they want to get involved. She offers inspiration for activism and examples of what some children have already done to support the ongoing work of activists in Pakistan to free and educate child laborers. Included is a list of organizations and individuals to contact for more information or to get involved in supporting the work of anti-slavery activists. (Age 11-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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