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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                       

Republic of Cameroon

Because of its modest oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as stagnating per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Cameroon

Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Most victims are children trafficked within the country, with girls primarily trafficked for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. Both boys and girls are also trafficked within Cameroon for forced labor in sweatshops, bars, restaurants, on tea and cocoa plantations, in mines, and for street vending and possibly for forced begging.

Reports indicate that traditional religious leaders may subject individuals to hereditary slavery practices rooted in ancestral master-slave relationships in some northern chiefdoms.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Cameroon.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Beatings, Isolation and Fear: The Life of a Slave in the U.S.

Pierre Thomas, Jack Date and Theresa Cook, ABC News, May 21, 2007

[accessed 26 January 2011]

Evelyn Chumbow was once a slave, but not in some distant country. She worked right here in the United States.  Chumbow, now 21, was brought to suburban Maryland in 1996 from her native Cameroon by Theresa Mubang. Mubang promised Chumbow's family that if 11-year-old Evelyn came to America, she would have the prospect of a bright future and a first-rate education, as she had been a top student in her native country.  Instead, after she arrived, Mubang enslaved the child in her home, forcing her to work long hours and depriving her of the education she was promised, and never paid her a dime.


*** ARCHIVES ***

At Capitol, faith-based organizations shine light on human trafficking

Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, 5 July 2019

[accessed 8 July 2019]

When a relative offered her the opportunity to come to the U.S. through an arrangement with a family in her hometown, she was ready to embark on that life.

Chumbow, who was 11 when she became a victim of forced labor, fit many of the characteristics of trafficking victims: 25% of those trafficked are children and over 70% of those trafficked are women and girls. Chumbow thought she was coming to the United States to be adopted by a family.

Instead, she was in a group of girls brought in under one passport and then sent off to become a domestic worker in a house in Maryland, where, at age 11, she cooked and cleaned and took care of other children, receiving no salary. The relative who had made the arrangement, she later found out, had sold her for $1,000 to the household where she suffered a variety of abuses.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Cameroon

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 25 May 2021]


Anecdotal reports of hereditary servitude imposed on former slaves in some chiefdoms in the North Region continued. Many members of the Kirdi–a predominately Christian and animist ethnic group enslaved by the Muslim Fulani in the 1800s–continued to work for traditional Fulani rulers for compensation in room and board and generally low and unregulated wages, while their children were free to pursue schooling and work of their choosing. Kirdi were also required to pay local chiefdom taxes to the Fulani, as were all other subjects. The combination of low wages and high taxes (although legal) effectively constituted forced labor. While technically free to leave, many Kirdi remained in the hierarchical and authoritarian system because of a lack of viable alternative options.

Anecdotal reports suggested that in the South and East Regions, some Baka, including children, continued to be subjected to unfair labor practices by Bantu farmers, who hired the Baka at exploitative wages to work on their farms during the harvest seasons.


Children younger than the minimum age of employment tended to be involved in agriculture, fishing and livestock, the service industry, sex work, and artisanal gold mining. There were reports of underage children associated with nonstate armed groups in the Far North, Southwest, and Northwest Regions. In agriculture, children were exposed to hazardous conditions, including climbing trees, handling heavy loads, using machetes, and handling agricultural chemicals. Children in artisanal gold mines and gravel quarries spent long hours filling and transporting wheelbarrows of sand or gravel, breaking stones without eye protection, and digging and washing the soil or mud, sometimes in stagnant water, to extract minerals. These activities left children vulnerable to physical injuries, waterborne diseases, and exposure to mercury. Children worked as street vendors; in fishing, where they were exposed to hazardous conditions; and largely alongside families and rather than for formal employers. Children were subjected to forced begging as talibes in Koranic schools.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 26 April 2020]


Despite a 2011 law against human trafficking, Cameroon remains a source, transit, and destination country for forced labor and sex trafficking of children, as well as a source country for women who are subject to forced labor and prostitution in Europe. Some internally displaced women have also resorted to prostitution in the cities of Yaoundé and Douala. Child labor remains common, and child workers are frequently exposed to hazardous working conditions, particularly when collecting scrap metal for sale.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 17 April 2019]

[accessed 26 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 250]

Children in Cameroon engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation and perform dangerous tasks in cocoa production.

Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for child trafficking from neighboring countries in Central and West Africa. (8; 16; 3) Some traffickers have resorted to kidnapping children, as increased public awareness has resulted in fewer parents entrusting their children to intermediaries. (3) Children engaged in cocoa production are exposed to dangerous working conditions, including exposure to pesticides and the use of sharp tools such as machetes. (9) The NGO Child Soldiers International alleged that some officially sanctioned community neighborhood watch groups, known as vigilance committees, may have used and recruited children as young as age 12 in military operations against Boko Haram. (18).

A Study on Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation within th Gulf of Guinea countries

James Okolie-Osemene PhD, Department of International Relations and the Director of Research and Linkage Programme, Wellspring University, Nigeria

[Long URL]

[accessed 14 February 2022]

The objectives of this study are to situate and examine the context, nature and networks of human trafficking for sexual exploitation around the Gulf of Guinea in order to identify the intersection between the sources, transit and destinations of the illicit trade, interrogate the human rights implications of human trafficking for sexual exploitation around the countries of the Gulf of Guinea on the one hand, and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the anti-trafficking activities on the other hand.

Cameroonians Rescued From Human Traffickers

Moki Edwin Kindzeka, Voice of America VOA News, 10 July 2015

[accessed 12 July 2015]

As some 50 Cameroonian women recover in a trauma center from their ordeals of forced labor in Middle East homes, calls are resounding for the central African nation’s government to investigate and prosecute the human traffickers allegedly responsible for their plight.

Some of the women said they were deceived by television ads claiming there was work in Kuwait for domestic help, nurses and airport employees.

Claudette Amikeh, 27, said she was treated like a slave during a year in Kuwait. She complained of little time to sleep and, "at times, no food, [only] stress."

Amikeh said she begged to be returned to Cameroon, but "this woman said I am going nowhere: I have come to work, I must work. I went down on my knees…. I cried to God for help. I prayed and cried."

Beatrice Titanji, who runs the trauma center, said these human traffickers also collect an advance salary of $3,000 from Middle East people who contract for the women’s services. They don’t give the money to the women.

Human trafficking: The faces and sorrow at the heart of a UN report

UN News Centre, 13 February 2009

[accessed 26 January 2011]

Rose was just a teenager in Cameroon when she was promised a chance to go to school in the United States. What she got was – slavery, working 15 hours a day for years, paid nothing, and beaten.

Rose finally opened the door in suburban Washington, D.C., and ran shoelesss although it was October and bitterly cold. She called the number of a Cameroonian man who visited her slave owner’s house occasionally and seemed concerned about her. He picked her up hours later. Another Cameroonian took her into his home and she was eventually reunited with other young Cameroonian girls who had been enslaved.

Trafficking of African women is thriving

Francois Tillinac, Agence France-Presse AFP, May 10 2007

[accessed 26 January 2011]

In January Italian police smashed several human trafficking rings involving African and eastern European females and netted some 800 suspects.

Outside Nigeria, other main sources of females for prostitution were the west Africa states of Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Togo.  She said young girls were lured with fraudulent offers of jobs in Europe, only to end up being violently forced into prostitution.

Couple Indicted On Human Trafficking Charges

U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC, February 8, 2005 – Press Release 05-050

[accessed 26 January 2011]

According to the three count indictment, Joseph Djoumessi and Evelyn Djoumessi violated federal law by fraudulently bringing a 14 year old Cameroonian girl into the United States and using her as an unpaid domestic servant in their Farmington Hills, Michigan home for almost four years. The Djoumessis are Cameroonian nationals and permanent resident aliens of the United States.

"Too often human traffickers bait young girls with promises of the American dream only to then force them into involuntary servitude. Civilized society cannot tolerate this," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department takes these charges very seriously and is committed to prosecuting those who attempt to profit by the systematic abuse and degradation of others."

Woman gets 17 years for keeping slave girl

The Washington Times, February 28, 2005

[accessed 1 September 2011]

Theresa Mubang was convicted by a federal jury in November of involuntary servitude and harboring an alien. Prosecutors said she forced the girl to cook, clean and take care of Mubang’s young children for no pay. Mubang also beat the girl with a high-heeled shoe, broomstick and television cable, prosecutors said.

Mubang fled shortly after her conviction and was not in court in Greenbelt yesterday. Her attorney, Peter Goldman, said Mubang’s use of a domestic servant was part of the “cultural norms” that Mubang brought from her native Cameroon.

IYF and Nokia Recognize 11 Outstanding Youth Leaders with YouthActionNet Awards

International Youth Foundation, Baltimore Maryland, June 16, 2004

[accessed 26 January 2011]

In many cases, award winners plan to use the funding they receive to strengthen and expand their efforts. In Cameroon, Ernest Mbandi will use the award to sponsor a forum that will bring together 150 youth and victims of child trafficking to discuss means of addressing child slavery.

Testimony of Professor Mohamed Mattar Co-Director, Protection Project Johns Hopkins University

Professor Mohamed Mattar, Co-Director, Protection Project, Johns Hopkins University, July 7, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

Based upon the analysis conducted by The Protection Project on these cases, which the Department of Justice kindly made available, I can say that the majority of victims that are trafficked into the U.S. come from countries in Africa, especially Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Tonga; Latin America, especially Jamaica, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala; Asia, especially South Korea, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Thailand and China and Russia.

They are trafficked for the purposes of prostitution, other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor and domestic service.

Bittersweet chocolate

Caroline Tiger,, Feb 14, 2003

[accessed 4 September 2014]

[accessed 6 September 2016]

The most recent survey of conditions on West African cocoa farms, completed by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture for the U.S. Agency for International Development, estimated that nearly 300,000 children work in dangerous conditions on cocoa farms in the four countries surveyed -- Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon -- the vast majority of them in the Ivory Coast. The report, released in July 2002, says that of the 300,000 children, more than half (64 percent) are under 14 years old. Twelve thousand had no connection to the family on whose cocoa farm they toiled, but only 5,100 of them were paid for their work. Almost 6,000 were described as "unpaid workers with no family ties," provoking advocates to refer to them as "slaves."

Regional efforts against Child Labour

Union Network International, 01/28/2002

[accessed 1 September 2011]

The states involved were also classified. A supplier state is the victim's state of origin while the final destination is a receiver state. Victims can transit through states to reach a final destination. In West Africa, Cote d'Ivoire is a receiver state for Malian and Burkinabe children. In Central Africa, Cameroon is a transit state for Togolese, Nigerian and Benin's e children heading to Gabon which is considered an "Eldorado" because of its relative prosperity due to the oil industry.

Child Slavery in Africa

Levi Anthony, June 11, 2002

[accessed 26 January 2011]

[scroll down to  03-27-2007, 10:12 PM ]

A thriving trade in human traffic has developed in many parts of Africa mainly because of the grinding poverty in which many Africans live. Oftentimes, slave traffickers fool parents into selling their children, telling them that they are being sent away to get a good education. In the end, these children are sold across Africa and as far away as Europe. The countries from which children are smuggled include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Nigeria.

African "slave ship" highlights spread of child slavery

Trevor Johnson, World Socialist Web Site, 19 April 2001

[accessed 26 January 2011]

There is also a thin layer of elite Africans who acquire unpaid servants to work in their houses. Countries in the front line of this trade include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Nigeria and Togo. Traders say girls from Benin and Togo are particularly in demand by wealthy families in Lagos, in Nigeria, and in Libreville, in Gabon. Other children are taken from as far away as Banui in the Central Africa Republic. Children from Banui are said to be in high demand in Cameroon.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 12 October 2001

[accessed 26 January 2011]

[60] The Committee is deeply concerned at the large number of children being sold by their parents and subsequently exploited in the labor market. The Committee is also concerned at information on alleged instances of trafficking in children for their exploitation in the State party and in neighboring countries. The Committee is further concerned at the possible use of inter-country adoption for the purpose of trafficking.

The Protection Project - Cameroon [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[Last accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), thousands of Cameroonian children fall victim to trafficking every year.  Children are exploited as laborers on plantations and cocoa farms  and also as workers in small shops, bars, and households.   It is common for a middle-class family in Cameroon to have one or several children working for them in exchange for a very modest wage and minimal education.  The practice of child labor in households and fields is a tradition that sometimes masks trafficking. In rural areas, children as young as 4 are expected to work.  A recent survey sampled children and employers in Yaounde, in Limbe, and in Mbangasina, a region with large cocoa farms. The survey revealed that children from Chad, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria were paid as little as 3,000 CFA francs per month to perform chores sometimes lasting 18 hours a day. The children suffered from malnourishment and sexual abuse.

A common tradition in Cameroon is the practice of placement. The practice provides a means for poor families to educate their children. Under its original form, poor family members would send their children to live with wealthy family members or with other families who lived in a city. The children were expected to provide various services to the foster family in exchange for an education, vocational training, or money sent back to the family of origin. Gradually, traffickers began to exploit this intrafamily help system. Exploitation can range from withholding pay and refusing or failing to educate the child to abusing the child physically, sexually, and mentally.

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch – Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 26 January 2011]


2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 19 March 2019]

[accessed 25 June 2019]


There continued to be reports of hereditary servitude imposed on former slaves in some chiefdoms in the North region. Many Kirdi, whose tribe had been enslaved by Fulani in the 1800s, continued to work for traditional Fulani rulers for compensation, while their children were free to pursue schooling and work of their choosing. Kirdi were also required to pay local chiefdom taxes to Fulani, as were all other subjects. The combination of low wages and high taxes, although legal, effectively constituted forced labor. While technically free to leave, many Kirdi remained in the hierarchical and authoritarian system because of a lack of viable options.

In the South and East regions, some Baka, including children, continued to be subjected to unfair labor practices by Bantu farmers, who hired the Baka at exploitive wages to work on their farms during the harvest seasons


The use of child labor, including forced labor, in informal sectors remained rampant. According to an International Labor Organization 2012 survey, 40 percent of children between the ages of six and 14 were engaged in economic activity; 89 percent of working children were employed in agriculture, 5 percent in commerce, and 6 percent in either industrial work or domestic service. UNICEF’s 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicated that 47 percent of children ages five-14 engaged in child labor. Children working in agriculture frequently were involved in clearing and tilling the soil and harvesting crops, such as bananas and cocoa. In the service sector, children worked as domestic servants and street vendors. Children worked at artisanal mining sites under dangerous conditions. Children were also forced to beg by adults, often by their parents to provide additional income for the household. According to anecdotal reports, child labor, especially by refugee children, was prevalent in the building construction sector. Chinese firms also reportedly resorted to child labor in the manufacture of children’s shoes.

Parents viewed child labor as both a tradition and a rite of passage. Relatives often brought rural youth, especially girls, to urban areas to exploit them as domestic helpers under the pretense of allowing them to attend school. In rural areas many children began work at an early age on family farms. The cocoa industry and cattle-rearing sector also employed child laborers. These children originated, for the most part, from the three northern and the Northwest regions.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Women and children traditionally have faced the greatest risk of trafficking and have been trafficked most often for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Most trafficking in children occurred within the country's borders, while most trafficked women were transported out of the country. According to anecdotal evidence by the NCHRF, women often were "hired" into hubs of prostitution, often in Europe. The method for trafficking women usually involved a marriage proposition by a foreign businessman. The woman was inducted into servitude upon arrival at a foreign destination. Girls were internally trafficked from the Adamawa, North, Far North, and Northwest provinces to Douala and Yaounde to work as domestic servants, street vendors, or prostitutes. Children were also internally trafficked to work on cocoa bean plantations. There have been credible reports of slavery, especially in some chiefdoms in the North Province.

A 2000 ILO study conducted in Yaounde, Douala, and Bamenda, reported that trafficking accounted for 84 percent of child laborers in those three cities. During the year local NGOs said they believed that this statistic was still accurate. In most cases, intermediaries presented themselves as businessmen, approaching parents with large families or custodians of orphans and promising to assist the child with education or professional training. The intermediary paid parents an average of $12 (6 thousand CFA francs) before transporting the child to a city where the intermediary would subject the child to forced labor with little remuneration. In 4 out of 10 cases, the child was a foreigner transported to the country for labor. The report also indicated that the country was a transit country for regional traffickers, who transported children between Nigeria, Benin, Niger, Chad, Togo, the Republic of the Congo, and the CAR for indentured or domestic servitude, farm labor, and sexual exploitation. Citizens also were trafficked to South Africa.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [c] The ILO confirmed that there was an increase during the year in serious trafficking issues, and slavery situations have been identified in the northern provinces. NGOs and religious associations reported that children were kidnapped, sold, or "lent" by their parents to individuals claiming to look after their interests and sent to Yaounde or Douala to work in child beggar networks and, in some cases, prostitution rings. Some children were sent to neighboring countries to work. These victims were generally of both sexes and between the ages of 6 and 14 years old.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 26 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for the international trafficking of children, and trafficking also occurred within the country.  Girls are trafficked internally from the Grand North and Northwest provinces to urban areas.  Children are also trafficked to work in the production of cocoa.  Cameroon is a destination country for children trafficked from Nigeria and Benin and a transit country for the movement of children between Nigeria and Gabon.  According to a 2004 study by the Institute for Socio-Anthropological Research, children who have been trafficked in Cameroon are forced to work in agriculture, domestic service, sweatshops, bars and restaurants and in prostitution.  There have been credible reports of child slavery in Cameroon, particularly in the Rey Bouba Division of North Province.  In some cases, parents offered their young girls to the Lamido (chief) of the Rey Bouba Division as gifts.  The Ministry of Social Affairs also reports that children of some large rural families are “loaned” to work as domestic servants, vendors, prostitutes or baby sitters in urban areas in exchange for monetary compensation.

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