The ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ passed in 1946 banned slavery in all of its forms, recognised or otherwise. Just a decade later, yet another decree stating the same was established in the United Nations supplementary convention held on the eradication of slavery, slave trade and the institutions and practices similar to slavery. In between those ten years, the problem of slavery continued to thrive in different parts of the world, and the trend remains unabated to this day, albeit in many different avatars and under a hundred pseudonyms. Today, there are child labours, young and adult prostitutes and slaves and people working under inhuman conditions at minimum wage. These are the people who represent the staggering number of slaves in the present times; the many faces of modern slavery.
A Demand and Supply Chain
Countries in the Latin America, select regions in the Caribbean, China, various other parts of Asia and Africa are the cesspools from which the traffickers draw their material from. The western world is, in most cases, the biggest market for the slave trade on account if being wealthier than the rest of the world. The United Kingdom, for example, states a terrifying statistic of human trafficking in recent years. Today, however, the United Kingdom has made immense progress in the field of slavery by joining forces with international police organisations and the employment of skilled personnel.
A Many-Headed Horror
Contemporary slavery today exists in many forms. According to the international labour organisation, many of these cases are not recognised by most as slavery per se, they still fulfil the criteria, and, as such, fall within the category of the same.
- Forced Labour: This is one of the most prominent forms of slavery seen in the modern world. People from economically backward backgrounds are often sold and/or forced into working under inhuman conditions, most often under the threat and/or application of physical violence. While men, women and children alike are targeted by the trafficking rings, children are the most vulnerable, forced to provide unskilled labour in explosives factories and other dangerous industries.
- Early, Forced and Fake Marriage: Women from poor backgrounds are often forced into marrying, often at an early age and coerced into a lifetime of servitude under the pressure of physical and psychological violence. Fake marriages also take place when women are duped into travelling to another country under the guise of a marriage that never takes place.
- Sex Trade: A major population of women are trafficked by criminal gangs and sucked into prostitution.
- Bonded Labour: Men, women and children are forced into working as a method of paying off a loan they had taken from their employers. Unfortunately in many cases, these people are actually tricked into taking a loan for a very minor cause; it might never get paid off even after a lifetime of literal slaving for the lender in exchange for food. Needless to say, these lenders take advantage of the simplicity and urgency of the uneducated. This practice can continue over the years and down generations, with the son taking the place of the father and try to pay off the loan.
- Domestic Slavery: In certain parts of Africa and elsewhere, people are sold and bought and made domestic servants. Even if commoditisation doesn’t happen, in many cases, the domestic help is forced to remain with their employer under the application/threat of physical torture.