Today, slavery is against the law in every country in the world with Mauritania being the last country to make slavery illegal in 1981. This was enforced in 2007, when a punishment of 10 years for keeping slaves was introduced. This punishment was increased to 20 years in 2015.
Unfortunately, there are many ways slavery still exists today. The population has grown, and there are more slaves today than ever before.
HOW HAS SLAVERY CHANGED IN MODERN TIMES?
Modern slavery is different to how slavery used to be:
- Nobody defends the practice anymore
- As it is illegal, slavery is kept going by corruption and crime
- There are no industries that rely on slavery anymore
- It is much cheaper to buy slaves now, but slaveholders still make a big profit from their labour.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF MODERN SLAVERY?
- Labour – People may be forced to work for one employer. They do not have the choice to leave, even though they suffer bad employment conditions. They are forced into slavery by poverty, which means that their family may also be forced into slavery.
- Child slavery – Children may be adopted to be used as slaves or forced to become child soldiers.
- Marital and sexual slavery – Women may be forced, sold, or inherited into marriage. They may also be forced into prostitution.
WHY DOES SLAVERY STILL EXIST IN THE MODERN WORLD?
Even though slavery is illegal worldwide, it is thought that around 21 million people are enslaved into forced labour alone. There are many reasons why the slavery practice continues to be an issue:
- Poverty – People in poverty are forced to rely on money-lenders with high interest rates and cannot afford to move to find new employment. They are trapped into forced labour by debt.
- Lack of alternatives – People want to protect and provide financially for their families and have no other way to do this. There may be a limited choice of employers. They may be discriminated against, or treated differently, because of their social or ethnic background.
- Population growth – There are more people competing for jobs than before. This means more people have to turn to forced labour.
- Anti-slavery laws have not been enforced – For example, in Mauritania, a punishment was only made 26 years after the law was made to ban slavery.
It is important that as a community, we address these issues so that slavery becomes an issue of the past. The law protects the people but as a community, we have to make sure that together we fight for the rights of each member of our society.