was abolished 150 years ago, right? While it is true that slavery is illegal almost
everywhere on earth, the fact is there are more slaves today than there ever were
- more than 27 million, by modest estimates. Most of the world's slaves are in
Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but slaves are everywhere. The CIA estimates
that each year more than 50,000 men, women and children are smuggled into the
United States against their will. This is called "human trafficking." People are
tricked into coming with offers of good jobs or education, but instead are forced
to work as domestic or sex slaves, or in agriculture fields or sweat shops. They
are physically abused and terrorized into staying enslaved.
some slaves are 'bought' in the way slaves had been in the past, most contemporary
slaves are enslaved through "debt bondage" and may not even realize
they are enslaved. A person borrows money and agrees to work until they can pay
back the loan, but they never can, because the lender keeps increasing the interest
rate and changes the books. A typical scenario is a mine worker who has to buy
the tools for his job and takes out a loan to pay for them, but spends most of
his money on food and the rest of his wages go to pay for the interest on his
loan, so he has to keep working and can never pay back the original loan.
debt bondage is even worse - when a person borrows money their family and all
the work they and their families do becomes 'collateral.' Generation after generation
of an entire family continues to be indebted for the same original tiny loan.
Many times people don't even realize they are being enslaved. Their sense of honesty
and integrity for their family's name causes them to take on these debts. Many
enslaved in these ways are illiterate. Through education they can see that their
human rights are being violated and they no longer allow themselves to be tricked
is a slave?
A contemporary slave is a person held against their will,
controlled by violence and paid nothing for their work -- the same definition
as slaves 150 years ago.
after slaves have been freed, they continue to suffer psychological trauma - for
many it is the only life they have known and feel no other sense of identity.
Psychological counseling and therapy, education and job training can help many
regain their sense of identity and help them to lead a better life.
people don't know that there are slaves but when they find out they are outraged
and want to do something about it. Fortunately there are a number of international
organizations working to end slavery and help the victims once they are freed.
of the hurdles for ending slavery is that slavery is so profitable and slaves
today are so cheap. In 1850 the average slave cost about $1000, which would be
worth almost $40,000 by today's living standards. Slaves were an investment and
slave owners typically saw about a 5% profit each year. Today, the average cost
of a slave is $100 and slave labor typically reaps 800% profits! Because they
are so cheap, slaves are "disposable." In the past, slave owners had
incentive to provide a minimum level of care to make sure that the slaves were
healthy enough to work; Contemporary slaves are so cheap, there isn't an interest
in 'owning' and caring for them, only controlling and exploiting them for as long
as they are profitable, and this is usually done through abusive violence.
some countries, even though it is illegal, slavery is still generally accepted.
Others nations lack the resources to stop slave trade. In countries like the US,
where an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 are enslaved in the agriculture, clothing,
domestic and sex industries, strong laws work to bring perpetrators to justice
and free those enslaved. But often it is difficult to know that someone is being
held against their will. With more public awareness, more of those enslaved will
be able to be freed.
United Nations has designated December 2 as The International Day for the Abolition
of Slavery to commemorate the December 2, 1949 International Convention against
human trafficking and to raise awareness about the continuing struggle to end
March 25, 1807 - British Parliamentary Bill abolished slavery in the British Isles
February 1, 1865 - 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the US
1927 Slavery Convention abolished slavery worldwide
December 10, 1948 - United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. Article 4 states: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery
and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
December 2, 1949 - United
Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation
of Others adopted
October 2000 - The US Trafficking Victims Protection Act strengthened criminal
penalties, and provided better protections to trafficking victims.