In 1833, slavery was abolished in the UK. In 1865, it was abolished in the US. In 2017, there are more slaves than in any time in history.
A few appalling statistics
- There are an estimated 20 to 30 million slaves across the world today. As they are frequently hidden, it’s difficult to be exact.
- An estimated number of 800,000 people are illegally trafficked across international borders every year.
- 161 countries are affected by human trafficking.
- The total yearly profit gained from human trafficking is over $30 billion a year.
- In terms of profit, human trafficking is ranked as the 3rd largest international crime industry – just behind drugs and arms trafficking.
- Most modern slavery victims are between 18 and 24 years old.
- 1.2 million children are enslaved through forced labor and exploited in the sexual industry each year.
Different kinds of slavery
Sexual exploitation: Working in brothels, Internet sex, sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the abuse of children for the production of child abuse images.
Domestic servitude: This involves a victim being forced to work in private households, performing domestic chores and childcare duties.
Forced labour: It can happen in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, laying driveways, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty.
Criminal exploitation: The exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting and drug trafficking, to get financial gain for the trafficker.
Other forms of exploitation: Organ removal, forced begging, cannabis cultivation, forced benefit fraud, forced marriage and illegal adoption.
Why is slavery so prevalent today?
Migration: Millions are on the move from poorer countries to wealthier ones, and from poorer rural areas to cities, in search of work. Far from home, often with no money, and unable to speak the local language, migrants are especially vulnerable to being tricked by traffickers pretending to be legitimate labor recruiters.
Corruption: Although slavery is illegal everywhere, some governments are so corrupt that they turn a blind eye to slavery, allowing it to go unpunished, or even thrive. In many countries, those in slavery have no police protection from predatory traffickers.
Discrimination: Social inequality is increasing, based on factors such as gender, race, tribe or caste, creates widespread economic and social vulnerability.
What can I do?
Here are some links to specific pages of organizations that are active in this area, with a host of practical actions:
A view from the UK
A view from the US