Slavery Is Not Dead

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Slavery did not end with the Civil War. It exists today, on the street corners of Washington D.C, in the Vietnamese sweatshops of Russia, in the quarries of Nepal, and even here in Iowa. Its an unpleasant fact, but it is a very real and growing one, and the number of innocent people enslaved around the world today is a larger than ever before.

How does slavery occur when it is illegal everywhere?

Oftentimes, these modern slaves do not know what is happening to them until it is too late. In third world countries, they are lured to factory work, often overseas, in an effort to gain a new life and escape from poverty. Once at their new "jobs," they are paid a pittance, forced to work in substandard conditions, and not allowed to leave the facilities. Employers charge outrageous prices for basic necessities like food and water, and factory workers quickly become indebted, and are forced to continue to work there, trying in vain to escape a circle of debt that they will never be able to pay down. This is modern slavery, and it occurs across the globe, in factories and sweatshops that produce your shoes and shirts for such a low price.

In other trafficking rings, specifically ones that target sex slaves, traffickers befriend or take in at risk teenagers who often have no other places to go after being kicked out of their own houses or running away. These pimps then lavish their victims with gifts, clothes, and drugs, forming deep bonds with these runaways and often addicting them to drugs. These runaways become entirely dependent upon their pimps, who provide them with everything they need, and are subsequently coerced, beaten, and extorted into prostitution, or whatever the pimp wants to do with them, because they own them, and the prostitutes have no other means of survival.

These are just a few tactics that modern day slave owners use. In Uganda, warlords simply kidnap children at gunpoint.

In places like China, Russia, and North Korea, citizens are arrested for trivial offenses, and sentenced to labor camps, often performing back breaking labor for obscene sentences for the benefit of the state.

"The end of legal slavery in the United States and around the world has not meant the end of slavery." -Hillary Clinton

The Facts

  • It is estimated that there are approximately 27 million slaves around the world.
  • The average cost of a slave around the world is $90.
  • Approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
  • Half of trafficking victims in the world are under the age of 18.
  • There is only one shelter in the U.S. designed specifically to meet the needs of trafficking victims, and it currently only houses a total of seven to nine victims.

The Good News

While this may seem depressing, there is good news. Countries around the world are championing sex trafficking issues and making it a priority to stop the spread of this global scourge.

  • It really wouldn't cost that much to eliminate most types of slavery. (The entire TED Talk below is really interesting, but you can skip to 10:58 in the video below for the good news)

Kevin Bales: How to combat modern slavery