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Does Slavery Still Persist? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Timmy, Nigeria Feb 25, 2004
Human Rights , Poverty , Genocide , Slavery & Human Trafficking   Opinions
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In this modern world, is there anything like slavery? Most people would like to think not. That's because the word slavery conjures up horrific pictures of brutality and oppression. In the minds of many, such pictures belong to the past especially when slave trade was still in fashion. You could envision slave ships crammed with human beings to be sold as slaves with chains all about them.

Of course, such slave ships no longer exists and they don't ply our seas anymore as today's international treaties and conventions ban such forms of slavery. Yet this does not mean slavery is completely dead as most people may think. The human rights organisation and Anti Slavery International calculates that up to 200 million people still live in some forms of slavery. They work in very poor conditions that may as well be the same conditions as slaves of previous centuries. In fact, some analysts conclude that more people are in slavery today than at any time in history.

Modern day slavery has in its claws mostly women and children. They toil against their will to work in factories, plantations, as domestic housemaids and all kinds of odd jobs; underage boys are even drafted into the war to fight while the girls are to work as prostitutes. It is a pity that poverty also has a link in slavery as some slaves may be sold for as little as 10 dollars. Some children are even sold into slavery by their own parents to cover bad debts.

The International Labour Organisation has repeatedly said that labour is not a commodity, but few people ever realize that. There are several forms of slavery and they come in different forms. Euripides, a Greek playwright of the fifth century B.C.E. once said 'This is what it means to be a slave; to be abused and bear it, compelled by violence to suffer wrong.'

Slavery has a long and often despised history. From the time of the earliest civilizations in Egypt, powerful nations have enslaved their weaker neighbours. Greek philosopher Aristotle claimed that humanity is divided into two classes, that of the masters with the natural right to command and the slaves who simply born to obey.

No continent has suffered the ravages of the slave trade as much as Africa. According to some writers, over the course of some 1,250 years, an estimated 18 million Africans were taken to Europe and the Middle East to meet the demand for slaves in those places. Historians calculate that between 1650 and 1850, about 12 million people were taken as slaves from Africa.

Over the centuries, both individuals and nations have fought to free themselves from the terrible bondage called slavery. It is a known fact that slavery persisted far longer in the United States. The were slaves who fought vigorously to free themselves and their loved ones and they were also free people who fought sincerely against slavery, advocating its abolition or by aiding runaway slaves until late in the 19th century that the practice was finally outlawed in the country.

Nevertheless, have struggles to end slavery been in vain? 'No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms,' states the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. Many sincere people have dedicated the time and resources to ending slavery. Success however does not come easily. It appears millions of people still toil for nothing in appalling conditions and many have been subjected to inhuman treatment. True freedom remains elusive to many and in fact, the global economy has made slave trade more lucrative as people will do almost anything for money.

Not only can slavery be forced on people, but also people can willing become slaves themselves. We have what I would call ‘forced slavery’ and ‘self slavery’. Examples of ‘self slavery’ are addictions which include drug abuse, drinking, smoking and gambling. Of course, the list goes on and on and the result of breaking out is usually the same in both; quite difficult.

Can slavery really end? Few people really think that. Some analysts of slavery have advocated the fact that for slavery to ever have an end, the global economy must improve considerably. They believe that it is as a result of poverty that most of slavery has its footing. They argue that poor parents living in absolute poverty usually don't have a choice but to allow their daughter to be used for prostitution while their sons are usually recruited into criminal gangs which once you are in, it's difficult to get out. People are usually tempted with money to do things they otherwise would not do. No true loving parent would want their daughter to end up as a prostitute or their son an assassin. Others analysts believe that greed is a major cause of slavery. Only a greedy person would go as far as to treat his fellow human like dirt and force them to inhuman conditions. The world today cares not just about making money for a decent living but making a profit even by exploiting others. Most people sold into forced labour are not paid well, some are not even paid at all and others have to work so hard to earn more than twice as much as the money they were bought with in order to gain their freedom. All this is just to make a profit.





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Comments


Sexual Slavery; Sexual Trafficking in Northern Korea
Erika Kneeland | Feb 26th, 2004
I read an article in seventeen magazine about a korean girl trying to escape from her country, who was then sold, raped and beaten until rescued by missionaries. The title of the article was something along the lines of "Slavery still exists!"

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