Nobody would have thought that here in the 21st century, people would feel a need to fight slavery. There is no government on the face of the earth that officially condones slavery, yet there are some estimates that indicate that more people may be held in involuntary servitude than ever before. Slavery has taken on a new face in the 21st century and the efforts to fight it have had to change as well.
What Slavery Looks Like Today
Slavery takes on many newer forms today. It takes the form of human trafficking, bonded labor, forced labor, or even sex trafficking. But, whatever form it takes, it still is holding people against their will and forcing them to work for no pay. Twenty-seven million men and women and boys and girls may be forced to work for someone else, despite international conventions and national laws prohibiting these practices. In some forms of forced labor, people are proffered monetary assistance and an opportunity for work. The payment and interest are structured in such a way that the victim can never pay it off.
Those who are held to such arrangement are often too afraid to go to anyone for help. They may have been moved by their new employer to a different country. Once there, they find their passports and ID gone and don’t know what to do..
The U.S. State Department keeps track of modern slavery. A 2005 reports gives examples of some of the many forms it takes today, such as the story of 17-year old Neary in Cambodia who was married off by her sister in hopes of her getting a better life. But:
Three months later they went to visit a fishing village. Her husband rented a room in what Neary thought was a guest house. But when she woke the next morning, her husband was gone. The owner of the house told her she had been sold by her husband for $300 and that she was actually in a brothel.
Because modern slavery takes so many different forms, fighting it is difficult, but still some people try.
The Fight Against Modern Slavery
Part of the problem of fighting modern slavery is acknowledging that it exists. In industrialized countries poor people from foreign countries are held in involuntary servitude in such conditions of employment as domestic work.
Organizations like Antislavery International are working to publicize the existence of slavery as it exists today and getting governments to sign on to documents like the International Labor Organization’s convention on domestic labor . These organizations then try to lobby the signatory countries to pass laws that support these conventions and enforce these laws.
Nearly everyone agrees today that slavery is wrong. The struggle is to get everyone to acknowledge it exists and do something about it.