While slavery is perceived to have ended over a hundred years ago, the truth is that slavery in modern times is a real thing. This is a scary thought that many people do not fully understand. By looking at what this is and who it affects, you can learn how to stop modern slavery.
What is Modern Slavery?
This form of slavery happens today throughout the world. While modern slavery in Africa is a huge issue, it also exists in the United States, even though many are unaware. There are several shapes that slavery takes in the globalized world. There are a few indications to look for in order to determine if an action is slavery or not. According to the Anti Slavery website, a person “is in slavery if they are:
- forced to work – through mental or physical threat.
- owned or controlled by an ’employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse.
- dehumanized, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’.
- physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.
Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, gender and races.”
Modern Slavery Facts
Now that you understand what the definition of slavery in the modern world entails, it is helpful to take a look at a few statistics. Here are a few things you should know:
- Approximately 21 million people around the world are in some sort of slavery. This includes men, women and children. This is also an estimate as there is no way to understand the full magnitude of slavery.
- 26% of all slaves are children under the age of 18.
- The country with the highest number of slaves is India, with an estimated 14 million slaves.
- While modern slavery in America is not as prevalent as other countries, there are still an estimated 60,000 victims of slavery.
- There is nowhere in the world where slavery is legal, yet it happens in every part of the world to some extent.
The Many Forms of Slavery in Existence Today
When most people think about slavery, they mostly think of coerced labor. However, there are numerous ways that a person could be a slave. It is important to understand the different types of slavery in the modern world.
This is the most common form of slavery in existence today. It is when someone is forced to work for little or no pay in order to pay off a debt that is owed. Keep in mind that this debt may be real, or it can be a debt that a group claims the person owes with no substantial backing. In some cases, people are forced to work off the debts of family members, especially if the family member is deceased. They force the person to work by using force or threats of violence against them or their family. These people are often watched closely by the owner of the debt, and may even be locked up to ensure they do not try to escape before the supposed debt is repaid.
There are many ways that children can be forced into slavery. They can be forced to work for little or no pay. In other cases they are forced to beg or steal to bring in money for their owner. They may also be forced into armed conflicts and made to fight. There are other illicit activities that these children can be forced into, including pornography, prostitution, drug trade and more.
Child Marriages and Forced Marriages
Studies have found that around 11% of all the women in the world are married by the time they are 15. While this may not be the case in America, it does affect many other parts of the world. Also, while forced marriages traditionally involve girls, some boys are also victims of this. There are few factors that indicate when a marriage is forced. This includes a person not being able to give an informed and free consent for the marriage, if they are in a position of ownership in the marriage, and if they do not have any way to leave the marriage. Many of these women never say anything about their forced marriage. They often feel there is no way out, or are abused by their spouse in one way or another. Even if a man loves the child bride he marries, if she was never free to choose to marry him, then it constitutes slavery.
This is what many people think of when they think of slavery. It is what happens when people are taken from their homes and forced to work for someone. This usually happens under some sort of threat, be it a physical threat on their life or the life of a family member. These people are often forced to work in labor intensive industries or industries where there are no regulations or government oversight. This includes fishing, agriculture, manufacturing and prostitution to name a few. While this is worldwide problem, it is most prevalent in Asia and the Pacific region.
Descent Based Slavery
This involves people who are born into a life of slavery due to the socioeconomic hierarchy they are born into. This is mostly an issue in West Africa, though victims of forced labor who have children may also face this same form of slavery. The problem in West Africa is that even when these people escape their owner, they are faced with ridicule and threats their entire life because they are seen as slaves.
This is the act of kidnapping people and transporting them for slavery. This can be for any illicit means, though the most common reasons for human trafficking are prostitution and forced labor. It is important to note that any person could be the victim of human trafficking. Traffickers prey on men, women and children alike. It simply depends on what they are looking for with a particular buyer they are dealing with. They may be looking for young boys for forced begging, or older women for domestic servitude. Keep in mind that this is very different than human smuggling. Smuggling is the act of bringing a person across international borders when the person is free and wants to cross the border, whereas trafficking is moving people who are not free.
How to End Modern Slavery
This is such a huge, multifaceted problem that it is hard to tell where to even begin to understand how to stop this problem. The good news is that you can make a difference. There are several things that you can do to help put an end to slavery.
The first thing you should do is to educate yourself about slavery. Read plenty of articles on the matter and understand what is going on in the world. While this in and of itself will not stop slavery, it will help to give you a better understanding of the problem so you can do something about it.
Educate others about modern slavery. Whenever you have the chance, let others know about this and what a problem it really is. Most people do not even know that there is a problem. Raising awareness of an issue is the first step to combating it.
Another thing you can do to help end slavery is to be a mindful consumer. This goes further than just ensuring you are not buying blood diamonds. Slavery is an aspect that affects many different industries around the world. Take the time to understand what companies are buying from slave owners and which companies are real ethical businesses. One way you can do this is by looking into the Ethical Trade Initiative, where you can find out about businesses who agree to operate according to ethical standards to ensure that their products are not directly related to the slave trade around the world.
While it is impossible for one person to end slavery on their own, there is a lot that can be done to end slavery when we work together. Take some time to fully understand modern slavery and what you can do to help end it. There are many organizations out there that are doing everything they can to end slavery. You can find one to donate to or even volunteer for.