Slavery Today: Its Modern Forms

Of course, slavery we all know was abolished in the 19th century but it evolved into another form; an appearance likely to be dangerous like the former. Modern slavery is not just about owning people but also controlling them, their lives against their choices or possibly against human rights. Due to its use of force and violence, modern slavery does not only oppose human rights but contribute a grave threat to international development. About 40 million people are victims of modern slavery and 10 million of these modern slaves are children. Records may not be accurate due to the fact that slavery is seen as an illegal activity around the world and therefore its practices are covered often.

It is important to note that poverty is the major cause of modern slavery. In some other parts of the world like Mauritania, the minority groups are violently exploited and taken as slaves. More often, the minority Haratine or Afro-Mauritanian groups lack jobs, government jobs and some priveledges. The Arab-Berbers enjoy reasonable job positions, rights and are always the ruling group over the dark-skinned Mauritanians. It is shocking to remember that in 1981, slavery became illegal in Mauritania but yet it has become a generational issue mostly inherited from mother to child.

According to Amnesty International, about 43,000 people are still slaves in Mauritania, although the government has declared the country slave-free. Contrary, the country has jailed more anti-slavery activists more than slave owners.

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The New Slavery

These days, slavery has grown from its old form of government-backed exercise into illegal private activities. From open transportation of slaves to secret human trafficking and from public slave ownership to concealed slave ownership.
Below are some of the forms of modern slavery;

Human trafficking

This is an illegal activity where people are transported from one country to another for forced labour or sexual exploitation. Approximately, 600,000 to 800,000 people are victims of human trafficking annually. The victims are either forcefully pinned down either through violence, the debts they owe or psychological manipulation. This nature of slavery has no limits concerning countries, economies and races. Even most industrial countries like Russia and China are permeable to human trafficking. According to state.gov, Russia do not meet the conditions to curb human trafficking. Badly, child trafficking is also hardly curbed. These kids are deceived, sheltered and transported to for sexual ventures, fraud, hand-picking etc and sometimes terrorism.

Forced Labor

The victims are mostly migrants who are forced to manual labour through violence, bondage or threats to give them up to immigration authorities. This labour comes with less or no payment. Mostly the women are the major victims. Either held captive for their debts or certainly through psychological manipulations. Often, they are forced to work under debt bondage in order to pay their debts and regain their freedom. Almost 24.9 million people are victims of forced labour – 54% are women and girls. Countries that mostly practice forced labour or bonded labour are in South Asia such as Nepal and India.

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Illegal Enrollment and the Use of Child Soldiers

First, there is no legal recruitment for child soldiers, human rights law declares 18 as the minimum legal age for recruitment and use of children in hostilities. Recruiting and using children under the age of 15 as soldiers are prohibited under international humanitarian law – treaty and custom – and is defined as a war crime by the International Criminal Court.

Slavery can be reduced but undoubtedly, it can’t be stopped. Every day, different modes of slavery surface quietly. In Africa, thousands of young girls and boys from poor rural families are being sent by their parents to the cities to work as maids. These young boys and girls work under inhumane conditions forced upon them by their masters and mistresses. Most of them do not go to school and they sleep hungry. In Nigeria, several cases have been recorded where maids undergo torture, rape and starvation from their masters. Although NGOs around the world are fighting against slavery, adequate support and sensitization from the Ministries of Women, Social Welfare, Labour, Interior, Health and other related national ministries are needed to reduce the acts of slavery, especially in Asian and African countries.

Daniel writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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