t is hard to believe that slavery still exists in 2020. What is even worse to understand is that not only does it exist, but that 40 million people in the world are living in servitude.
The way we understand what slavery means may need some updating. Most of the slaves today are not being captured and placed on ships as happened in the dark old days. But the lives of slaves today are equally as bad as those lived by slaves centuries ago.
Women and girls make up more than 70% of the slaves in the world today. And a shocking 25% of the estimated total of more than 40 million are children.
What do modern-day slaves do?
Slavery is defined as a situation where a person is coerced into carrying out their job. They may have their freedom of movement taken away. And they may have been bought and sold as a commodity.
On top of the estimated 40 million slaves in the world, it is thought that there are a further 15 million people living in forced marriages.
Incredibly, the majority of modern-day slaves work in the private sector. This could be cleaning homes and offices, producing clothes, picking fruit and vegetables, working on fishing boats, or any number of other tasks.
Where is most slavery happening?
Most modern-day slavery is taking place in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific.
The country that is thought to have the most modern-day slaves, however, is North Korea.
Sex exploitation is a significant issue in Asia and the Pacific, with 70% of the world’s sex exploitation found there.
Slavery is not restricted to poor and developing nations. In the UK, there are at least 13,000 enslaved people.
Why is slavery such a major problem still?
Slavery is increasing because it is profitable for those who enslave people to take part in this practice. The trade of people is worth over $150 billion annually.
Modern-day slavers earn up to thirty times more than their 18th and 19th-century counterparts would have done.
The rise in the global population is also a driver of slavery. Ten countries that comprise more than half of the world’s population also include 60% of all the people living in slavery.
How do people end up as slaves?
Many people are forced into slavery through violent means or by being sold by a family member.
There are also those people who are tricked into becoming slaves. This could happen when a person takes a job on a fishing boat, for example. It is only once the person is out at sea that they realize the reality of the situation they have put themselves in.
Many people also accept job offers in more prosperous countries only to discover that nothing is what they were led to believe it would be. Their documents and possessions are taken away from them, and their new employees force them to work as a means of paying back the debt that was incurred in bringing them into a foreign country.
Will slavery ever end?
If large organizations allow their products to be assembled under such conditions, what hope is there for eradicating this kind of exploitation in other areas of society?
It would seem very little, at least in the short-term.