A look at the history of the world will find that slavery played a central role in the development of the largest, most vibrant, countries today. Historians will say that the human yearning for adventure was what brought the state of the world to where it is today. Those that suffered the harsh realities of slavery will argue otherwise. Whether you look at the usage of Native American and African American slaves to expand the powers of the United States colonies, or you realize the chattel system employed in India, the pock mark is there upon society for all to see. Let’s take a look at how slavery has sculpted our world and what is the real slavery definition?
What is the definition of slavery?
There are two ways that we can talk about slavery. The slavery definition for kids, to keep things simple, would only say that ‘people are property.’ That doesn’t suffice for how expansive and vile the practice actually is. The slavery definition that persists today basically states that slavery is an organized legal and economic system where people are treated as property. This is the most common way to define slavery because it is the most common type of slave that we can think of. Slavery brings to mind images of African American workers chained together in the deep South in the not so distant past. That is not the only type of slavery that there is, however. In fact there are a few different forms of slavery that move far past the above slavery definition. Let’s take a look at the different systems of organized enslavement.
- Forced Labor Slavery
- This is most commonly referred to as chattel slavery. Chattel simply means ‘property’, and these were the lowest of the low on the slavery ladder. These men and women were forced to work against their will in jobs that were typically dangerous, dirty, or demeaning. These slaves received no compensation for their work and often lived their entire life in chains.
- Bonded Labor Slavery
- The definition of chattel slavery and bonded labor slavery doesn’t change a whole lot, at least at a first glance. The difference between these two forms of slavery comes into how the slave got to where they are. Bonded slaves are men and women who are forced to work until a debt is re-payed. Due to contracts that exploit legal loopholes, bonded slaves typically never repay their debt and are forced to work for life.
- Wage Slavery
- The wage slavery definition will call to mind that of the bonded labor slave. Wage slavery points out the disparity between a person’s maximum earning potential and the amount that they need to live. Sweatshops and unregulated working industries in different third world countries often have an entire system of workers that are enslaved to their paltry wage.
- Sex Slavery
- According to reports written by UNICEF there are a reported 800,000 slaves in circulation every single year. Of that number reports say that 70% of these slaves are women and that the majority of them end up working in some form of sex trade. Sex slavery can include prostitution rings, strip clubs, coerced marriages, and other forms of sexually exploited services.
- Child Slavery
- For this definition slavery consists of only people under the age of ‘majority’. The age of majority around much of the world is 18, so any slave under 18 would be considered a child slave. The problem of child slavery rose to prominence back in 2012 when Joseph Kony was under heavy fire for abducting and consequently using child slaves to fight for him. Child slaves are also forced into prostitution and domestic work. Sweatshops, such as the ones uesd by Nike and Gap, are the common havens for child labor.
- Domestic Slavery
- This is one of the most hidden forms of slavery. Domestic slaves typically work in ‘hidden places of employment’, most often the private home of their ‘owner’. These slaves typically work in isolated environments, far away from anything that they are familiar with. In order to keep domestic slaves stuck to their ‘owner’, the owner typically removes all forms of identification and travel documents from the other person. This restricts their mobility and keeps them reliant.
- Caste System
- In India the idea of a ‘caste system’ serves as a hard rule over all of the people. This is a type of slavery that is not unlike the chattel slavery definition, except for a few key concepts. In this system there is no upward movement in life. You are, and will always be, stuck in the ‘caste’ that you are born into. Those of the lowest caste are looked at as less than people, as dirty, and as worthless individuals deserving only of scorn.
A look at the origins of slavery
As we’ve stated above, slavery has been prevalent throughout the majority of human history. There are very few areas of human history that are not plagued by the idea of slavery. It seems that as long as there have been people willing to exploit one another, there are those that will be exploited. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there has been evidence of history that date all the way back to 8000 BC in Egypt. Was Ancient Egypt the only place that has shown slavery to be a key component of their early make up? Not hardly. Let’s take a look at a few different sources of early slavery
A glance at slavery in the formation of our modern world
Knowing that slavery was so prevalent in our past means that we shouldn’t be surprised to know that it played a prat in our present day living. For Americans, slavery was integral in the outward expansion of the early days of colonial life. Settlers relied on Native American and African American imports in order to handle the labor that was necessary to ‘journey West’. The historically significant Civil War took place in the United States due, in large part, to a difference of beliefs in relation to slavery. If we were to look at an anti slavery definition we would find information about the abolitionists that played suc ha large part in the prior mentioned War. Yet, it wasn’t just the United States that profited from slavery in these early days. We can look across the sea to places like the Middle East and India and see that slavery was also integral in those developing lands. India, as we learned above, is beholden to their caste system. The Middle East today is still a hotbed for the exchanging of slaves.
A look at the relevance of human trafficking in regards to slavery
Slavery takes the shape of many different forms of oppression. We have looked at how slavery shaped the modern world and we looked at how it can be traced back to the very origins of humanity. Now, slavery is evolving and existing in the modern world in the form of human trafficking. According to reports by UNICEF, human trafficking is a multi billion dollar industry every single year. Young girls and impoverished families are typically at risk the most and it is no surprise that there isn’t as big of an outrage over it. These people do not have a voice and need our awareness in order to help them. Human trafficking is a very real problem but one that would take far too many pages to properly delve into now.
Are there any pro slavery people left?
Believe it or not, despite the fact that slavery is still so abhorrent, there are still those that would see it return to prominence in the modern world. We aren’t just talking about fringe groups and racists on the internet. When we look at the pro slavery definition we expect to see caricatures of old Southern Gentleman, but that isn’t always the case. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan and many neonazi groups publicly state their stance that they would stand behind the enslavement of ‘inferior races’.
Slavery is a nasty byproduct of the greediness of man. We’ve shown that it has played a big part in the evolution of our progress all across the globe. We’ve also shown that we can be a moral and ethically strong group of people. Slavery must never be repeated, but it also must never be forgotten.