Slavery Alive and Well

  By: Daniel Nardini

                   Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary   For so many Americans, slavery ended in 1865 after the end of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865). For many people in so many parts of the world, slavery is also a thing of the past. Yet slavery itself is still very much with us. In a number of countries, slavery is an everyday part of life. If this sounds unimaginable, it is still a fact of life. According to the Australian-based organization Walk Free Foundation, there are four kinds of slavery in the world.
                   There is the slavery that once existed in the United States. This is where people can buy people and slaves are nothing more than property. Then there is the case of debt bondage, where individuals or whole families may be held against their will to work off a debt that can in fact never be paid off. For the case of women, there is the case of slavery by forced marriage and by prostitution. Women are married against their will for a family to pay off a debt or because of tradition. Finally, there is forced work slavery where people, including children, are forced to work for no pay and minimal food.
                     Forced work slavery is an everyday occurrence in China’s vast work camp system. Forced slavery is equally common in India where children and young people are kidnapped and held against their will while they are forced to work. Forced marriages also happen in India and China, and in a number of Muslim countries we find the kind of slavery where those sold into slavery are treated like property. The two top countries where slavery is an everyday fact of life are India with 13,956,010 slaves and China with 2,949,243 slaves.
                    The next top ten countries where slavery is prevalent are Pakistan with 2,127,132 slaves, Nigeria with 701,032 slaves, Ethiopia with 651,110 slaves, Russia with 516,217 slaves (that one surprised me), Thailand with 472,118 slaves, the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 462,327 slaves, and Burma with 384,037 slaves (according to the Global Slavery Index of 2013). The main problem in all of these countries are lack of law enforcement, and in too many cases where the punishments for those who engage in slavery are too light or non-existent (or in the case of China, where forced labor in its labor camps is in fact the law).
                         Fighting slavery is of paramount importance not only for these countries, but also for the First World countries since many products imported into the United States and the European Union are made from slave labor. This of course does not even describe the human degradation under the other forms of slavery. Slavery may have been around almost since humanity began, but it is far from being acceptable and should not be acceptable in this day of age.

Comments are closed.