The facts about modern day slavery are shocking and remain largely unknown to much of society. Below are seven interesting facts about modern day slavery.
1. When Americans think about slavery what often comes to mind is the transatlantic slave trade, Africans displaced from their homeland, and the Underground Railroad. Though slavery has officially been abolished in many countries, there is such a thing as modern day slavery. It is still alive and well all over the world and is not simply a thing of the past. It is estimated that there are anywhere from 20 to 30 million people who are in slavery at this moment. This is an increase from the 12.3 million slaves estimated in the 2005 study done by the International Labour Organization. The number is huge and leaves many wondering what can be done to help these people having to endure the cruelties of the people who have enslaved them and stripped them of their freedom.
2. Contemporary slavery is not present in just one area, forced labor lies within the realms of sexual abuse and prostitution, state-enforced work, and many others. According to the International Labour Organization, someone 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 have restrictions placed on freedom of movement
3. As of 1981, slavery is not legal anywhere. That year, Mauritania became the very last country in the world to abolish slavery. Unfortunately, the fact that it is illegal doesn’t completely stop the practice; the act of owning slaves didn’t become a crime in the nation until 2007. That being said, many in the country defied the law anyway. In fact, only one slave-owner has been successfully prosecuted there. As mentioned above, there are 20-30 million people in slavery right now. Despite the fact that it’s illegal, it continues to happen and affect all ages, races, and genders.
4. Slave-owners often use euphemisms to hide the term “slavery” in order to avoid getting caught. Such euphemisms are as follows: debt bondage, bonded labor, attached labor, restavec (a French word that means “one who stays with”), forced labor, and indentured servitude.
5. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons report, there are 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year; 80 percent of those victims are female. Even more shocking is the fact that 50 percent of these people are children under the age of 18. These victims live all over the world, within 161 different countries.
6. Slavery does not just reach adults; children are a very large part of contemporary slavery, especially in prostitution. According to the U.S. Department of State, 1 million children are exploited by the global sex trade every year. The average age a teen enters the American sex trade is 12-14 years of age. They are typically runaways who were abused sexually as small children.
7. The average cost of a slave is about $90.
- Samantha Davis