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
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 into slavery.
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
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 slavery.
March 25, 1807 - British Parliamentary Bill abolished
slavery in the British Isles
February 1, 1865 - 13th Amendment abolished slavery in
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.
Slavery Day - December 2