Sunday, November 11, 2012

Modern Slavery: A Shameful Reality (Part I)

The presence of 27 millions of children, women and men enslaved in the XXI century all over the world is disturbing. Slavery is banned in most countries and prohibited by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, yet slaves are found everywhere, in rich and poor countries though the majority are in India and African countries. Today’s slavery is less obvious but more abundant than in 1888 when Lavigerie undertook the anti-slavery campaign. 
Though called other names, the conditions of exploitation are similar. People are controlled against their will under threat of violence, sold like objects, forced to work for little or no pay and cannot walk away. They are forced into a life which is exploitative, humiliating and abusive and represents an appalling assault on the dignity of human beings. Women and children make up the vast majority of victims. Yet today like in the past many are committed to fight slavery, so that all human beings may live in freedom and dignity.
Slavery is the reduction of human beings to being mere commodities that are sold and bought for profit as are any other “goods”. Modern slavery is symptomatic of the capitalistic system where profits are more important than human beings and where some people are ready to profit from the exploitation and suffering of other humans.
Forced labour, debt bondage, human trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude and labour camps are today’s hidden institutions of slavery and the euphemisms used to hide the reality of “slavery”. This contributes to the general ignorance of slavery in our society. All are aspects of forced labour, where actual coercion (often with violence) is exercised by a third party to force the slave to undertake a work or service against his/her will. Forced labour and human trafficking are closely linked. However, while most victims of trafficking end up in forced labour, not all victims of forced labour are in this situation as a result of trafficking.

Begoña Iñarga, MSOLA