Information and news about slavery

Types of Slavery
Slavery is a term that most Americans are familiar with. From history classes to pop culture, the word has permeated the collective consciousness. UNESCO states that slavery is “identified by an element of ownership or control over another’s life, coercion and the restriction of movement and by the fact that someone is not free to leave.” Through this definition, the U.N. declared in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that every type of slavery is prohibited. Though it has been 70 years since this universal identification of slavery as an affront to human rights, the business of many types of slavery persists.

While exact numbers are difficult to establish, a recent estimate by the International Labor Organization claims that there are around 40 million people living in modern slavery. One of the many reasons that the number of people living in slavery is hard to identify is due to the many types of slavery that are used to coerce and control millions of people. To understand the global issue of slavery, this breakdown defines of the types of slavery as identified by the U.S. Department of State.

Types of Slavery

  1. Sex Trafficking
    The manipulation, coercion, or control of an adult engaging in a commercial sex act. The adult may consent to prostitution but be held in the exchange unwillingly due to unlawful debts. Any physical or psychological manipulation or force used to retain the individual is illegal and is considered trafficking.
  2. Child Sex Trafficking
    The child performs a commercial sex act after being recruited, sheltered, transported or sold. In this type of slavery, the child cannot consent. All forms of commercial sexual acts performed by children are illegal. These victims are especially vulnerable and often face long-term health issues.
  3. Forced Labor
    The physical or psychological manipulation or coercion to force a person to work. The employee may originally consent to work, but once force is used to compel the victim to work, it is considered trafficking and is illegal. Migrants and women are particularly vulnerable to forced labor.
  4. Forced Child Labor
    Some labor is permissible for children to perform, but there may be symptoms of abuse and trafficking if the child’s wages are redirected away from the child or his/her family. There are specific strategies outlined by the State Department to combat this unique problem.
  5. Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage
    The coercion of a person to work in order to pay off incurred debt. This debt may be from former employment or through ancestral debts. The ancestral form of debt bondage slavery seems to be most prevalent in South Asia.
  6. Domestic Servitude
    Individuals whose workplace is a private residence and feel as though they cannot leave; they may also be abused. These individuals lack common benefits including, but not limited to, days off, appropriate compensation and freedom from abuse and violence.
  7. Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers
    The coercion or manipulation of children to act as combatants. The traffickers could be individuals, rebel groups, paramilitary groups or governments.

There are many organizations that fight trafficking. There are also several hotlines to report suspicious behavior that may indicate trafficking. Though the issue is global, fighting modern slavery begins at home. There are opportunities to become involved at the regional, national and international levels. As Congress navigates trafficking issues and seeks to expand protections in order to prevent human trafficking, understanding and showing support for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the types of slavery impacting millions of people is one way of supporting those impacted by trafficking.

– M. Shea Lamanna
Photo: Flickr


Slavery has been practiced for centuries, and although many believe it is a practice of the past, modern-day slavery is very prevalent in today’s society. It’s estimated that about 40 million people are modern slaves, and this article will explore how to end such prominent slavery.

Modern-day slavery has been defined as “debt bondage, serfdom, forced marriage of a child for the exploitation of that child.” Out of the 40 million people trapped in the slave system, around 25 million people are in forced labor, 15 million are involved in forced marriage and five million people work as sex slaves. Statistics also show that 25 percent of slaves are children and 71 percent are women.

Parts of Asia and the Pacific hold the most substantial amount of slaves, while Europe, Africa, the Arab states and the Americas also suffer from the same crisis. It is essential to know what steps and measures can be taken to know how to end slavery.

Social Media

Social media is a key component on how to end slavery. Modern slavery is not a priority compared to other political agenda movements, so utilizing social media to bring awareness to the issue can be a significant first step.

In this age of technology, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram started as a device used to spread and share news, as well as connect individuals; thus, a simple post can be the beginning of an entire movement.

Education

Another way to end slavery is to educate yourself on the topic. Be able to note the difference between slavery of the past compared to the new definition of slavery; learn which demographic is most affected by slavery; discover which organizations strive to end slavery; and finally, how you can make a difference.

Donating Money and Time

Becoming involved in organizations that solely work to end slavery such as the Anti-Slavery International or the CNN Freedom Project is another excellent action-item, as is joining campaigns or hosting fundraisers for the organizations.

Fundraising at schools, churches, after-school programs and around your local community can significantly help organizations fund campaigns and other events that will lead to the end of slavery. Another significant method of donating time is to write to local newspapers and magazines to spread concerns.

Pay Attention to Survivors

Fighting for freedom is an important step to ending slavery, but ensuring that survivors do not fall back into the system is just as essential. A way to help survivors is finding them jobs and helping them adjust to society.

Survivors can also be necessary tools for how to end slavery — people tend to sympathize with survivors when they hear their testimonies and experiences first-hand.

Contact Your Government

Possibly one of the most beneficial measures is to express your concerns with modern slavery to your local government; contacting your senator or representative can in fact lead to mass amounts of change. The United States government has an essential hand in international affairs, and one should use this privilege as a tool to fight against modern-day slavery.

Slavery has been a virus to this world for too long, and now it is finally time to put an end to this dehumanizing practice.

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Flickr

modern-day slavery facts
While many may associate slavery with the past, the sad truth is that slavery is a bigger issue in today’s world. The numbers are greater than ever, and are only growing. There are a lot of myths surrounding modern-day slavery facts, and a huge amount of basic information that many civilians are not aware of. Knowledge is power, and in the effort to equip citizens with the tools to fight this growing threat, these are the top 10 modern-day slavery facts that people should be aware of.

Top 10 Modern-Day Slavery Facts

  1. Slavery is more rampant now than it has ever been. The numbers prove that there are more slaves in the world now than there has ever been throughout all of history, and those numbers are only growing. With as many as 40 million modern-day slaves in the world today, this increase is something to take seriously.
  2. There are more enslaved laborers than trafficked sex slaves. Many people associate modern-day slavery with sex trafficking, but in reality, 68 percent of enslaved persons are trapped in forced labor of some sort. These people are enslaved in industries highly consumed in places like the United States, the U.K. and other first world countries. Slaves are laboring in the agriculture, textile, chocolate, mining and other industries that many people purchase from, directly or indirectly, on a daily basis.
  3. One-fourth of the slave population consists of children. Kids are being forced into slavery around the globe every day. Two hundred thousand become child soldiers and are thrown into very violent lifestyles against their wills.
  4. Forty-six percent of people know their trafficker. With almost half of enslaved persons having been trafficked by someone they knew, this threat is becoming harder to avoid. People who become enslaved are not always engaged in risky behavior or being careless. Many times, these people are simply hanging out with a friend they thought they could trust.
  5. Slaves are cheaper than they used to be, and therefore disposable. In 1850, a slave could be purchased for the modern equivalent of $40,000. These slaves were, therefore, a long-term investment and something to flaunt as a sign of wealth. Nowadays, a slave can be bought for $90. Being so inexpensive, slaves have become short-term, disposable and something that buyers do not want to publicly acknowledge. When a slave becomes sick or injured, they are simply “dumped” or killed.
  6. Poverty makes people vulnerable to trafficking. When people or families make less money, due to unemployment, war or immigrating, they become at risk. Traffickers pose as employment agents, and those needing a job go along with them, only to become enslaved. Families who want a better life for their children are often targeted by traffickers posing as placement agents, who promise the family a good home or schooling for their child. The family never knows what becomes of their child, who is forced into slavery.
  7. It is not just traffickers that enslave people. Sometimes governments still force labor upon their citizens. In Uzbekistan, people are forced to harvest cotton for two months out of every year. In Mauritania, the country with the highest percent of slavery among its people at 20 percent, there are still laws that prohibit slaves from attaining the rights of normal civilians.
  8. About half of the world’s slaves exist in India. Fourteen million modern-day slaves live in India. Many of these people are “debt slaves“, meaning that people in debt are forced to work to pay off their debt. It extends to their children and grandchildren, becoming a multi-generational chain of slavery.
  9. While slaves are cheap, the profits from them are huge. Annually, the slave market brings in $150 billion annually, which adds up to be more than the combined revenues of the world’s four richest companies.
  10. Almost everyone is contributing to slavery. Even though most people are not actually trafficking anyone into modern-day slavery, the fact is that even our electronics have been touched by slavery, due to the gold or other materials used to make them originating from conflict areas. Ninety percent of the shrimp shipped to United States comes from companies overseas using forced labor. The chocolate bars people consume, the clothing people put on every day, the tomatoes used to make salsa for families, the sugar in the candy given during the holidays and even the soccer balls used in school tournaments are all made or harvested by slave labor. It has trickled down into almost all products used on a daily basis. Becoming a conscious buyer and consumer can make a difference in ways that many are not aware exist.

While slavery is a bigger problem than ever, the moral battle has been won; slavery is no longer considered a just practice. It has become something to be ashamed of, and that was not always the case. What the world has ahead of it are the numbers of enslaved people that need to be freed. While the battle has yet to be won for slavery, becoming informed and spreading the word can truly conquer a lot. These modern-day slavery facts are all very real, and when the rest of the population works to create change, the slavery numbers might be able to be reduced.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr

The Fight for Freedom: Most Common Types of Human TraffickingThe prevalence of human trafficking is a present-day example of the existence of slavery. This global human rights issue is a billion-dollar crime industry, affecting millions of individuals in almost every nation in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion… for the purpose of exploitation.”

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of exploitation that has three elements: the act, the means and the purpose. The act refers to the transfer or recruitment of persons. The means is how trafficking is done, which includes the threat, force or deception used to control victims. The purpose of exploitation includes sex, labor, slavery or the removal of organs. According to the Human Rights Commission, the most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage.

Common Types of Human Trafficking

Sex trafficking refers to the forced participation of commercial sex acts; women and children are the most vulnerable to this type of human trafficking. This type of trafficking forms a significant portion of the transnational present-day slavery. The commercial sex trade exploits one million children a year. Women and young girls make up 80 percent of the trafficked victims.

Forced labor, or involuntary servitude, is where individuals provide labor through coercion, force or fraudulent means. According to the 2017 Estimates of Modern Slavery, there are 24.9 million victims of forced labor. Millions of enslaved individuals worldwide produce goods in various supply chains under violence and threat. These include the agricultural, mineral, construction and textile industries.

Debt bondage is also one of the most common types of human trafficking in which a person forcibly works in order to pay a debt. Migrant laborers are particularly vulnerable to this form of trafficking, as many regions have systematic schemes designed to exploit workers. Debt bondage involves a debt that cannot be paid off within a reasonable time frame. Also known as debt slavery, the period of debt strips the victim of basic freedom. A cycle of debt is then created and maintained through the abuse of contracts, increasing debt interest, increasing living expenses and higher labor expectations.

Response to the Most Common Types of Human Trafficking

Despite the large number of individuals that have fallen victim to human trafficking, there are many organizations that dedicate their efforts to address human trafficking issues. UNODC has established a comprehensive approach to tackle human trafficking. The strategy can be best viewed as three interdependent components which include: raising awareness, capacity building and maintaining strong partnerships.

Additionally, Polaris is a leading organization committed to the worldwide battle to end modern slavery. The organization’s model places an emphasis on the victims of human trafficking. Polaris provides assistance in the restoration of the victim’s freedom, helping survivors reintegrate back into society.

In other parts of the world, nonprofits continue to investigate core issues, such as the conditions that increase the vulnerability to human trafficking. The Freedom Project is an Australian movement that seeks to empower communities and focus on the prevention of human trafficking.

In response to these alarming human trafficking statistics, global movements dedicated to the eradication of modern slavery are leading the way to freedom.

– Dane de Leon

Photo: Flickr


Blood diamonds, or “conflict diamonds,” have been a hot topic since the 1990s. After civil war broke out in central and western Africa, diamond profits were used to fund wars, weapons, slavery and anti-government rebellions. Children and families were forced into slavery to mine diamonds, and the gemstone funded extreme violence and war among communities, destroying stability and peace. To this day, blood diamonds are perpetuating poverty in areas around Africa especially.

The Kimberley Process

The Kimberley Process was initiation in an effort to eradicate this cycle of slavery and violence surrounding the stone. This process was designed to turn blood diamonds into conflict free gems, and entailed certification of place of origin, how it was mined, where it was cut, who was involved in all processes and the intended destination of export.

The idea was to create a sort of passport for the diamond, so that buyers and consumers would be able to verify the ethical sourcing of the product; making sellers accountable for the diamonds they handled was a way to increase ethical practices.

While the Kimberley Process was a good theory, there were a few problems with it: since many people were involved in the process, sellers were still able to use bribery and violence to fake certification, and the process only regulated how the proceeds were used.

As long as it was not funding a war, weapons or means of overthrowing a government, the diamonds were given the stamp of approval. This leaves a huge problem that still runs rampant today — the inhumane conditions of which miners endure.

Worker Treatment and Fair Trade

Many workers are actually slaves, taken for the purpose of harvesting blood diamonds. Those who came to work willingly are underpaid, mistreated, abused and working under backbreaking conditions. While the Kimberley Process addresses the crisis of blood diamonds funding war and slaughter, the giant blank space remains that diamonds are unethical under the certification.

The need for ethical sourcing is as relevant as ever, especially with the millennial push for fair trade. While other luxury items like electronics and fine wines are booming, the diamond market has been stagnant for years. The current generation cares about ethical conditions, sustainability, and environmentally responsible practices. Knowing that blood diamonds are perpetuating poverty, millenials are abstaining from consuming the product at all.

This push has led big companies such as Tiffany and Co. and De Beer’s Forevermark to enforce stringent standards on their diamonds. Whether they choose to only buy from Canada, or work directly with the diamond sellers, they are listening to the push for fair trade.

Ethical Sourcing

While this is a great start, the issue remains that it is very hard for even experts to tell a diamond’s origin. Not knowing where the diamond came from makes it difficult to tell if it came from somewhere practicing conflict-free practices or not. While things like the coffee bean have been bursting with fair trade market placement, diamonds have remained an emotionally heavy issue — people are still dying over these goods. Blood diamonds are perpetuating poverty, even now.

While many argue to simply stop buying from problematic countries all together, the issue remains that a lot of poverty-stricken people rely on the mines for food. Children drop out of school to work in the diamond mines so they can contribute to feeding their families.

While they are working in inhumane conditions, boycotting the diamonds would also mean boycotting a family’s dinner, or a child’s milk for the week.

Possible Solutions

A solution discussed by committees for human rights has often been to enforce fair trade standards, as done with coffee. While cutting off the problem would also cut off the poverty stricken workers, working with the sellers would help them keep their jobs.

Involving the sellers in the process, and making them a part of the solution, would not only ensure humane practices and improve the lives of the workers and decrease the slave trade, but would it would also motivate sellers to enforce ethical practices.

Such methods worked in the coffee industry, and many propose that it could work in this industry as well. Such moves would turn a corrupt business into a viable income for those entrapped in it.

While the line is a fine one, finding the balance between helping sustain diamond workers and holding sellers accountable is attainable. Places like Botswana and Namibia are already starting to put stricter and more humane standards into place. In time, the hope is to ensure consumers that their gems are ethically traded, just like their espresso beans and fair trade clothing.

A Conscientious Future

This generation is a conscientious one, and that alone might be enough to propel the fight for ethics forward in the diamond industry. Rather than omitting diamonds in luxury, consumers need to either buy from ethically conscious sources, or demand higher standards from those not yet practicing conflict free practices. The demand and need for diamonds must remain in order to make a difference in the lives of those who mine them.

Blood diamonds are perpetuating poverty now, but with the pressure of loud voices and those with deep pockets, the tide will hopefully shift more dramatically in favor of ethical sourcing and humane worker treatment.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Brazil
The biggest country in South America is dealing with one of the most drastic poverty issues on Earth. Despite billions of dollars invested in event tourism like the World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016), Brazil’s economy has begun to spiral downward as the country faces its biggest decline in over a decade. These crucial facts about poverty in Brazil offer insight on the issues that plague them.

Poverty in Brazil

  1. The homeless population is revolutionary
    One of the recent facts about poverty in Brazil is that squatters there have collectively chosen to occupy abandoned hotels and are now facing the threat of eviction. One example is the Mauá Occupation, which houses over 1,000 people that make up around 237 families. Mauá was a unique idea back in 2007 when the homeless population was barely surviving on the streets and began taking up land by way of force. Now, it has become a full-blown movement. Like many countries, Brazil suffers from gentrification and increased living costs. Brazil’s gentrification has created a revolution of homeless people occupying space both as a protest and out of necessity. This past November, over 20,000 homeless marched throughout the city in direct protest of the housing inequity.
  2. Slavery ended only 130 years ago; inequality still devastating
    In 1888, Brazil became the last country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery, and the social, economic and moral ramifications of it still ripple throughout the nation. This is one of the more subtle and lesser spoken facts about poverty in Brazil because it reflects an ugly part of a recent history. Known as Afro-Brasileiros, black and brown Brazilians make up 51 percent of the nation’s population and suffer from discrimination and exclusion more than their lighter-skinned neighbors. Afro-Brasileiros also make up the majority of the homeless and poor population, and only seven percent of the city’s rich self-identify as such. Despite being known as a racial democracy, 80 percent of Brazil’s richest one percent are white, while only 13 percent of black and mixed-race Brazilians between 18 and 24 are currently enrolled in college. Afro-Brasileiro activism takes many forms; the Quilombos are descendants of slaves fighting for reparations. Another group focuses on the disproportions of blacks dying at the hands of Brazilian police. They have the slogan #VidasNegrasImportam, which translates to “Black Lives Matter.”
  3. New spending cap is making matters worse
    The new spending cap, known as PEC 55, will cut public spending for programs that help the poor. A U.N. official lauded it as the most socially regressive austerity package in the world. With 60 percent of Brazilians opposing it, the 20-year spending freeze inducted by President Temer has been protested and deemed a direct attack on the poor by many analysts.
  4. Unemployment was once slow growing; now it’s much faster
    Since the end of the World Cup in 2014, Brazil’s economy has been steadily declining to a new low. Unemployment grew from about six percent in December 2013 to nearly 12 percent in November 2016, despite almost 30 million Brazilians rising out of poverty between 2004 and 2014. Economic inequality is now expected to increase and around 2.5 million more Brazilians will be forced into poverty in the coming years.
  5. Water everywhere but not much to drink
    Roughly 20 percent of the world’s water supply is in Brazil yet much of the population suffers from a water shortage. The problem is that water is being used to power the economy, not the people. This is actually one of the older facts about poverty in Brazil, as the nation’s water misallocation has always been notoriously underserving. More than 60 percent of the nation’s energy is from hydropower plants while 72 percent of the water supply is consumed by agriculture via irrigation. In fact, Brazil is one of the most water-dependent nations in the world. More than eight percent of its GDP is agriculture and agroindustries, making it the world’s second-largest food exporter. Allocation of most of the nation’s water goes to the business sectors, and between 2004 and 2013, there was only a 10 percent increase in sanitation networks among the poorest 40 percent (i.e., households with toilets).
  6. From an emerging economy to a shrinking one
    Formerly an emerging economy growing at a rate of 7.5 percent in 2010, it shrunk at about the same rate over the last two years. Shrinkage is expected to increase due to President Temer’s privatization plan, and around 57 state assets are set to undergo a privatized makeover. From highways to airports and even the national mint, the privatization is in an effort to increase employment and improve quality of the service provided by the sectors. There is some proof that this could work; back in the 90s, the privatization lead to the considerable modernization of several crucial sectors. The best possible scenario still leaves the majority of the population, specifically the poorest, out of the financial loop.  Attracting international interests is great for the richest population looking to sell land to the highest bidder which happens to be China.
  7. Deforestation of the Amazon by China hurts locals directly
    China’s overwhelming demand for food meets Brazil’s immense agricultural production in a way that primarily benefits the wealthiest of Brazil. The Brazilian government has been selling off large parts of the Amazon to China directly, ironically in an effort to help China’s pollution while hurting Brazil’s sensitive ecology and economy. China’s deforestation of the Amazon temporarily increases employment in Brazilian cities near the forest, but then once first stages of production are over, massive layoffs result in a plummet of employment with the social climate (increased crime and violence) going with it. The massive deforestation even threatens Brazil’s ecological promises involved with the Paris Agreement.
  8. Infant mortality has dropped significantly but could be lower
    As of 2016, Brazil has significantly lowered it’s infant mortality rate from about 53 deaths per 1,000 (circa 1990) live births to about 14. While this is quite an achievement for such a developing country with so many social problems, UNICEF, the organization most responsible for helping the decline, remarked that the indigenous children of Brazil’s mortality rate is twice as high as those of city-born children. This shows that even for countries with relatively low levels of mortality, greater efforts to reduce disparities at the sub-national level are still needed. According to UNICEF, back in 2013 at least 32 municipalities still had an infant mortality rate of 80 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  9. Worker’s Unions are going extinct
    A recent law passed by President Temer allows employers to bypass nearly all hurdles set up by unions by eliminating a “union tax” that generates funding for worker’s unions. Designed to aid multinational corporations and not workers, the “reform” has been criticized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) as being in violation of international conventions. This permits inhumane working conditions and legalizes free labor. Legislation changes like this alter the future of the Brazilian workforce exponentially as multinational companies begin their migration into the Amazon.
  10. The right conditions for slavery
    Temer altered the definition of slavery so that it is defined by the victim’s freedom to leave. Meaning if a worker is kept in all the same living conditions as slavery, but not being physically forced to stay, it is to be considered legal labor. This is an emerging fact about poverty in Brazil because it has not happened yet, but legislatively, the absurd conditions do exist and the threat of slave labor is very real. This critical alteration of the definition has lead to the need for deeper investigations and, in alignment with the new changes, requires a police report with every case, creating more complications with each case. This drastically hurts the effectiveness of the ILOs ongoing fight against slavery which saw the liberation of more than 30,000 slaves in Brazil since 2003. The migration of businesses to the Amazon has made investigations much harder for the ILO and the conditions under which slaves work have gotten more brutal as well.

– Toni Paz
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the Genocide of Yazidis by ISILIslamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State, is an insurgent group operating in Iraq and Syria. Its propaganda is centered around brutality towards its enemies and those who violate Islamic law. Here are 10 facts about the genocide of Yazidis by ISIL.

Top Yazidis Genocide Facts

  1. The Yazidis are a Kurdish religious minority who live in Iraq, Syria, the Caucasus region and some parts of Turkey and Iran. Their religion has elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. The Yazidis were subjected to genocide several times under the Ottoman rule in the 18th and 19th centuries for their beliefs. On August 3, 2014, ISIL attacked the Yazidi living in Sinjar (Iraq).
  2. The most important of the facts about the genocide of Yazidis by ISIL is the orchestrated attack that was a part of a wider offensive to take control of minorities and Christians, who were asked to convert to Islam or pay religious taxes to stay alive. However, the Yazidis were declared infidels and “devil-worshippers” who deserved to be exterminated from the face of the earth.
  3. Tens of thousands of Yazidis had to flee to Mount Sinjar. They remained trapped there for days and many died of hunger and dehydration, while hundreds were massacred by ISIL. On August 7, 2014, the U.S. announced military action to help the trapped Yazidis at the request of the Iraqi government.
  4. Around 10,000 Yazidis were either killed or captured in August 2014 alone, out of which 3,100 were murdered by gunshots, beheaded and burned alive.
  5. In addition to the killings, ISIL systematically separated the women to rape, sexually mutilate and sterilize while many children were sent to training camps.
  6. The sexual violence against Yazidi women captured by ISIL is the most talked about among the facts about the genocide of Yazidis by ISIL. Around 7,000 women were sold as sex slaves or handed to jihadists as concubines. Girls as young as nine were sold off to Islamic State fighters, routinely raped and punished with extreme violence when they tried to escape. Children were killed as a means to punish their mothers for resisting.
  7. Mass graves were found with bodies of older women who could not command a price in the sex market. These mothers and grandmothers were not considered young or beautiful enough to rape, so they were simply taken behind the technical institute to be shot down in Solagh, east of Sinjar.
  8. Videos were recorded of “converted” Yazidi men and boys urging their relatives to convert to Islam and were then shown in all the holding sites. Families that obeyed were reunited. However, ISIL determined in the spring of 2015 that all conversions by Yazidis were false and separated all the reunited families.
  9. The Yazidi shrines of Sheikh Mand, Sheikh Hassan, Malak Fakhraddin and Mahma Rasha were destroyed following the attack. Yazidi homes were marked with symbols to distinguish them from others so that they could be looted and destroyed.
  10. The United Nations has classified the attacks on Yazidis by ISIL as genocide in its report, stating “ISIS has sought to erase the Yazidis through killings; sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women, and mental trauma; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community.”

– Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

Bonded Slavery in India

India has one of the best anti-slavery laws in the world, yet an estimated 18 million people in India live in modern slavery. This includes forced labor, sexual slavery and forced begging.

Bonded slavery in India is rampant, even though it was outlawed in 1976 by the enactment of the Bonded Labour Slavery Abolition Act. It thrives on the invisible leash of illegal financial obligations that result in a lifetime of forced labor. Whole families, including children, are forced to work for the money-lender, sometimes for generations, in an attempt to pay the debt and the exorbitant interest. Bonded slavery in India has its roots in vast inequality and extreme poverty.

Samarthan, which means “support” in Hindi, is a grassroots nonprofit organization that won the Free the Slaves Freedom Award in 2016. They fight poverty and slavery by empowering rural communities, raising awareness and providing access to essential information.

Samarthan joined hands with the BBC Media Action radio program “Majboor Kisko Bola!” (Who Are You Calling Helpless!) which aimed to help workers trapped in bonded labor by providing information about their legal rights. It is a 36-episode Hindi-language radio broadcast, each running for 30 minutes.

Samarthan spread awareness among the bonded laborers in the villages where there is no access to the internet, television or radio by using portable radios with a pen drive option. Samarthan made the effort to reach the most marginalized communities that remain isolated and uneducated, where a large number of families are under the bondage of rich farmers and money-lenders due to illegal debts.

Some of the steps taken by Samarthan include:

  • Reaching out to the most rural villages that are “media-dark” and giving access to essential information about legal and democratic rights through the “Majboor Kisko Bola!” initiative.
  • Providing the victims further personalized counseling, where anyone can make a phone call to understand what recourse they have.
  • Answering questions and register reports of abuse and forced labor.
  • Mobilizing listeners’ dialogues, called “Shrota Samvads”, in areas most affected, providing a platform for grievance redressal.

Samarthan has proved itself effective through its innovative approach to deal with the massive problem of bonded slavery in India. Due to the government’s failure to enforce the laws in realistic terms, the most effective solution seems to lie with passionate groups like Samarthan who are willing to support the forgotten slaves in the booming economy of India.

Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

Help People in KuwaitKuwait is not a country that often comes to mind when considering foreign aid. The oil-rich nation may seem self-sufficient; however, Kuwaitis face hurdles in their daily lives and are in need of assistance. Colossal prices for everyday goods, human rights violations and water conditions are just a few of the problems people encounter in Kuwait on a daily basis.

Although the nation is renowned for its high salaries, the correlating high cost of living is often left out. Basic necessities such as rent, food and health care have had drastic price increases. The Kuwaiti Times reports that “90 percent of the population is not as rich as the prime minister says.” The reporter continues to insinuate that the incumbent administration is oblivious to the reality of life in Kuwait.

To help people in Kuwait, combating human rights violations is essential. The Kafala system binds migrant workers to their employers, functioning as a modern day system of slavery. Workers are often vulnerable to forced labor in subpar conditions and abuse. Employers often threaten to deport migrant workers if they do not comply with their demands.

Between January and April of 2016, 14,400 workers faced deportation. Misdemeanors such as traffic violations or talking back can result in harsh punishments from their employers. The European Union has launched a project called PAVE to assist and shield these workers from exploitation. Donating to or volunteering for this organization are both ways to help people in Kuwait.

Although Kuwait is a food secure nation, it stands at ninth place for high water risk by 2040. Unparalleled evaporation rates deplete the soil of its moisture, resulting in a nominal percentage of water flowing into the aquifers. Without any natural rivers or lakes, this proves to be deleterious to the Kuwaiti population.

Contributions to the construction of water treatment plants or waste water systems are both ways to assist the country in their water deficit.

Once we puncture the façade of images of the wealthy Kuwaiti population, we realize that Kuwait cannot be overlooked when deliberating foreign aid.

Tanvi Wattal

Photo: Flickr

End Modern SlaverySlavery is never an easy problem to confront. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant to think about, a complex jumble of economics, politics, culture, and dozens of other areas. It is also very uncomfortable to address the possibility that many western clothes and electronics are made by slaves. However, poverty cannot end completely without ending slavery, and slavery will not end without an end to poverty. They feed off one another, so in order to end poverty, people must end modern slavery as well.

Society tends to imagine slavery as an issue of the past, a horrible chapter of human history that closed with the ban on the slave trade in Europe and the emancipation proclamation in America. But slavery has continued, and today, there are more people in slavery than at any other time in human history. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved today, 79 percent of whom are women and children. Almost every country in the world is somehow involved in human trafficking and slavery, either as a country of origin, transit or destination.

Many people who become trapped in slavery are the people who are already trapped in poverty. People in extreme poverty often try to find ways out of their desperate situation, and many are lured into the slave trade with promises of education, steady work and a better life. Instead, they are sold into slavery, often for as little as $90 a person, and imprisoned with literal chains or psychological pressure. They can then be forced into different types of slavery, including sexual exploitation and prostitution, forced labor, being compelled to act as beggars, benefit fraud and organ removal.

There are laws and international protocols against the slave trade, but they are poorly enforced and often ineffective. Victims fear coming forward to the authorities because of stigmas and the risk of imprisonment or deportation, even when they are the victims, not the criminals. The victims are often the ones to carry the social shame and punishments while the conviction rate for the slave traders remains low.

Ending modern day slavery feels like a difficult task. There is no open slave trade to end as there was in the 1700s and 1800s. The U.N. is one of the many organizations working to free people and give them a new life. Since the early ’90s, it has freed more than 90,000 people by working to prevent trafficking and protect victims. However, there are still millions more to free and prevent from becoming victims in the first place. The State Department has devised a strategy of prosecution, protection and prevention, the “3 P’s” that are aimed to end modern slavery.

One of the most important ways to end modern slavery is by preventing it. Both slavery and poverty are about “excluding people from economic and social justice,” so addressing economic and social issues deals with slavery and poverty together. By preventing individuals from falling into the desperate situations of poverty, they are less vulnerable to slave traffickers. Preventing social exclusion and discrimination is also an important step to stop slavery. Slowing the supply of victims by addressing these social and economic causes is a crucial step to ending modern slavery. Since many of these problems are also related to global poverty, this is a win-win situation.

Protection is another key way to end slavery. The movements of refugees and migrants have made many people more vulnerable, so safe migration and trade unions can help keep workers from becoming susceptible to the slave trade. Those already trapped in the slave trade should receive the proper treatment and legal action. This leads to the final P, which is prosecution of those running the slave trade. The low prosecution rates provide little deterrence for those involved with the slave trade, so cracking down on prosecution can act as a form of further deterrence.

Compared to the number of people in poverty, about 10 percent of the world’s population, the number of people in slavery is small. However, these 27 million people deserve far better treatment. Addressing the issues of poverty that cause the desperation can help end modern slavery, and ending modern slavery helps end poverty.

Rachael Lind