The political economy of child servitude in Liberia, West Africa


Child servitude is a form of economic exploitation of children around the world. We examine this phenomenon with local specificity, in Liberia, where it represents a perennial failure of the government to protect children, who are among its most vulnerable citizens. Despite its persistence and high prevalence, child servitude has not been the focus of academic research on Liberia. This paper explores the interplay of transmuted American chattel slavery and indigenous specific Liberian cultural practices of human subjugation against a backdrop of socio-economic inequalities, and their linkages to contemporary child servitude in postwar Liberia. We discuss the impacts of child servitude on victims and recommend policy measures to protect the rights of Liberian children. If postwar Liberia is to achieve its pro-poor developmental agenda, policies must be formulated that address child servitude and other forms of exploitation against Liberian children.