In Sierra Leone’s native Krio language, there exists a term “menpikin” that refers to children who are being raised by an individual other than their biological parent. It’s a common tradition in the country—one that comes with benefits, but many challenges as well.

Abuse of the menpikin tradition in the country is known to have contributed to rampant internal and cross-border child trafficking. While the Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Act, signed into law in 2022, updated Sierra Leone’s legal response to trafficking, little has been done to address the exploitation of informal adoption.

In rural Sierra Leone, traditional leaders called Paramount Chiefs and their community bylaws hold incredible influence in protecting local communities and pushing for stronger legislation.

This video examines the roles of local Paramount Chiefs, as well as the efforts being made in the country by UGA’s Center on Human Trafficking Research and Outreach.