Very few people are aware that slavery still exists. Or they think that it only happens in the Middle East or eastern countries. Many are aware of the term human trafficking, but their understanding of it is very limited.
Therefore it is important to understand the meaning of the word slavery. Synonyms for slavery include the following: bondage, enslavement, servitude, forced labour to name a few. Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy or sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. They are forced to work against their will. While slavery was institutionally recognised by most societies, it has now been outlawed in all recognised countries, the last being Mauritania in 2007, just more than 10 years ago! Nevertheless, there are an estimated 40.3 million people subject to some form of modern slavery worldwide, now referred to as human trafficking. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery)
Before I go further, I want to clarify any questions around the statistics. The estimated 40.3 million people in slavery might be fairly correct, but my guess would be it could be many times that. Let me explain...and it has to the saddest and most shocking. Many parents sell their children to traffickers. Most of these families struggle to survive financially and they are promised their children will have a great future in another country. They’ve been told that the buyer will help them find work, accommodation and everything needed. Out of desperation and false belief that it is in the best interest of their child and one mouth less to feed, they receive the money from the trafficker and seldom report it to the police. I know of a child from a neighbouring country that was traded for one cow. Or they sell their daughter to become a bride to an unknown man. These children never reach statistic reports. And that is only three examples.
So what happens to all these people? One of the most well known is prostitution. Children as young as 4 (no, that is not a typo!) are bought from parents or kidnapped to be sold to ‘pimps’ who rent them out as prostitutes. The very young ones are kept and “broken in” till they stop screaming and shouting. Stop crying for their mom. By the time they are old enough to be used as prostitutes, they know nothing else and accepted their fate and with no fighting left in them, obey their owner. The majority of prostitutes are owned by someone. And many ask why they don’t run away. The answer is simple. FEAR. These criminals are not your average criminal that steals to survive; it is a multi-million dollar industry. They have many ways to scare them, like threaten to kill their family or being abused, which includes rape, beaten up, burned with cigarettes or other objects, cut or even killed. They are also given drugs and with their drug dependency, they work for their next fix. They are given a daily target to make, even as many as 20 customers per day! So next time you see a prostitute standing on the street, think again before you judge. She might be miles from home and feel broken while working for the bare necessities. Many of them feel too ashamed to go back home, even if they can escape.
Boys and men are of course not excluded from sex trafficking and more and more being exploited as the demand keeps on growing.
Other forms of modern day slavery includes: Pornography, forced labour, organ harvesting, debt bondage, child soldiers and child marriages, which I will discuss in the next blog.
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