Did you know there are an estimated 27 million modern slaves around the world? (Click here for more facts.) During the times of the transatlantic slave trade, it's estimated that between 9 and 12 million Africans were forced into slavery in the Americas. In a time when slavery is illegal worldwide, how come there are twice as many slaves as more than two-hundred years ago?
1.) Economic desperation: Many people sell themselves or are sold into slavery in an effort to support their families. This rarely turns out to benefit anyone.
2.) Disregard for human worth: There have been some very highly publicized cases in the past twenty years of ambassadors and politicians in Washington DC who have been caught owning slaves or domestic workers who worked for slave wages. When someone who has so much power feels like they should be able to personally own another human being, this shows that there is some serious power-play and lack of respect for other humans. Can you imagine believing yourself to be so much better than someone else that you could own them? (I wish I could remember names, but I can't. The great book Global Woman has some really good discussions about modern slaves.) And then of course there are the "regular people" who purchase sex from slaves, who go on "sex tours" of underdeveloped nations and have sex with children, and cannot rationalize with worth of other human beings (often of another race). When did humanity get so heartless? Or have we always been this way?
There are a lot more contributing reasons to why modern slavery is so prevalent. And fortunately, in the past few years, there has been a lot more press about it and strides are being made to help survivors.
The 2005 Lifetime movie Human Trafficking gave a lot of people their first exposure to the realities of modern slavery
The article "21st Century Slaves" from a 2003 issue of National Geographic was sort of a turning point for me. When I was 13, I was shocked to learn that there were modern slaves in the world, and that some of them even lived in the US. After reading that article, I knew that I would be involved in human rights somehow when I was older. I can't find the full article online, but here's an excerpt.
So what can be done? Here are some ways to fight modern slavery.
To report trafficking crimes to the U.S. Department of Justice, or to get help, call its toll-free hotline at 1-888-428-7851.
Standing Against Global Exploitation: both an online resource and an organization working with survivors of human trafficking, the SAGE Project is working to end human trafficking and remediate its effects. They also have a men's program, because not all people who are trafficked are women.
Apne Aap Women Worldwide fights sex trafficking in India and supports the women and girls it helps free.
International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that works to help victims of trafficking maintain their rights to live free from slavery.
The Somaly Mam Foundation was started by a woman who was formerly trafficked herself, and fights to save the lives of women and children in Cambodia from the effects of sex slavery.
Vital Voices fights for women's rights worldwide, and has been especially involved in fighting human trafficking.
Human Trafficking.org is a web resource about human trafficking worldwide and how to combat it.
Amnesty International is also involved in the fight against human trafficking, and has many affiliated organizations working to end modern slavery listed on their website.
In other news, I have a post featured today on The F-Bomb about street harassment!