YES, SLAVERY STILL EXISTS...
Do you know there are presently an estimated 21 million slaves around the world? This staggering number comes from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. Known as modern slavery, victims are trapped in some sort of enslavement, be it domestic servitude, forced labor, child labor, or sex trafficking. To be clear, human trafficking can include, but does not require movement. It’s also not isolated to a specific country or region of the world; it’s a global problem. And according to Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest international human rights organization, “women are forced into prostitution, and both children and adults are forced to work in agriculture, domestic work, or factories and sweatshops producing goods for global supply chains; entire families forced to work for nothing to pay off generational debts; or girls forced to marry older men, the illegal practice still blights the contemporary world.”
Perhaps you have an idea of what being enslaved means, but in truth, slavery is defined by men, women and children who are: mentally or physically threatened to work, owned, or controlled by an ‘employer’ through various methods of abuse, dehumanized or treated as a commodity through being bought or sold, and/or physically constrained or having restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.
On its website, the U.S. Department of State also identifies “child soldiering as a manifestation of human trafficking when it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children – through force, fraud, or coercion – by armed forces as combatants or other forms of labor.” You probably heard of this as a common tactic used by extremist groups (ISIS, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram), paramilitary organizations, and rebel groups worldwide. The U.S. Department of State goes on to say “many children are forcibly abducted to be used as combatants while others are made to work as porters, cooks, guards, messengers and spies. It’s extremely common for both female and male children to be sexually abused by commanders and male soldiers.”
It’s important to raise awareness about modern slavery and to recognize a victim when you see one. Preyed upon, victims are often desperate to earn money, escape an unstable and abusive environment, and seek refuge for a better life. They are commonly promised payment, transportation, and freedom in exchange for their labor. We must educate our children and citizens, arming them with opportunity and a chance to prosper. We, in turn, can help people to protect themselves against deceitful “recruiting” methods through community engagement at the grassroots level and offering educational programs. Our united goal of eliminating castes and gender inequality should also be a priority as is working with organizations aimed at eliminating slavery.
I would hope in my lifetime slavery would cease to exist. I am an optimist and know the reality of that happening anytime soon is being wishful. Now I’m asking myself, what can I do to help make a difference.
Learn more at:
—Marra Allen, Marketing Coordinator & Office Manager