Although slavery has been abolished in the United States for around 150 years, slaves still exist in the world today. Currently, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates there are around 21 million people in slavery across the world.
What is modern day slavery?
- Trafficking for sexual exploitation
- Forced labor of children as domestic workers
- Forced labor of girls in the garment industry
- Unpaid agricultural work
- Child marriage
- Debt bondage
- Forced labor
- Descent-based slavery (born into slavery)
One young victim reflects on her experience as a slave:
“I was very afraid, but had no other option than to stay at my workplace. The house where I was sent as a housemaid was occupied by a large family. I was forced to work both in the house and in a shop. I had to work for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. None of the people in the home were supportive, and I was tortured on many occasions and in different ways.”
5 important facts about slavery:
- 90 percent of slavery is exploitation done by individuals and companies, while the remaining 10 percent is through forced work by the state, rebel military groups or prisons.
- Although slavery exists within every country, more than half of today’s 21 million slaves are found in Asia.
- 55 percent of slaves are women and children, since these populations are vulnerable and easily exploited.
- Human trafficking ranks as the third most profitable global crime, behind drug and arms dealings. In 2005, illegal profits from forced labor amounted to more than $44 billion.
- Forced labor impedes economic development and perpetuates poverty. For example, people in forced labor lose at least $21 billion each year in unpaid wages and recruitment fees.
The United Kingdom (UK) government launched a program to combat slavery in July. The Work in Freedom program aims to prevent 100,000 girls and women across South Asia from entering into labor trafficking. Through the Department for International Development and the ILO, £9.75 million will be invested in the Work for Freedom program over five years.
How will the Work for Freedom program combat slavery?
Millions of men and women from poor communities in Asia migrate to find employment and to help their families financially. The Work for Freedom project aims to tackle known trafficking routes to prevent these men and women from being exploited.
Since most of the trafficking in Asia is related to labor, Work for Freedom will focus on providing women with necessary skills and vocational training to help them secure legal employment with a decent wage. The program will also educate vulnerable men and women of their rights, and help them organize collectively. Finally, the program will prevent child labor by helping children stay in school instead of migrating for work.
The UK’s Work for Freedom program will help reduce slavery, in turn empowering the world’s vulnerable and decreasing global poverty.
– Caressa Kruth
Sources: The Guardian, The Guardian: Modern Day Slavery Explainer, Gov.UK: Work in Freedom, Gov.UK