Many people think that slavery is a thing of the past, but to the 21 million people enslaved today, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and 21 million is a low estimate. Modern slavery is as pervasive as it is harowing.The highest estimates suggest there are 46 million slaves in the modern world. These slaves overwhelmingly exist outside of the western world, which is why it’s so easy to get the false impression that slavery is a non-issue.
Slavery In South Africa
It’s possible that 250,000 slaves still exist in South Africa, at least that’s what the Global Slavery Index estimate. Over a third of these slaves are estimated to have been subject to forced prostitution. As recently as 15 November 2017 fifteen human trafficking victims were rescued in South Africa. They were aged between 16 and 30. One woman who escaped slaves in South Africa ran to the police for help, but they reacted coldly. She claims they appeared indifferent, did nothing to help, and simply passed the responsibility on to other organisations. Many people that corruption is one of the main reasons slavery is still so prevalent in South Africa.
A starving child in Afghanistan, roaming the streets since he has nowhere else to go, desperate for a way of surviving, may be approached by a Bacha Bazi pimp. This man will convince them crossdress and then dancing for the entertainment of older men. The children are often then taken to hotels by the men watching and abused for their sexual gratification. Boys who refuse risk being beaten, and potentially they may even be killed. When they grow older they’re left to their own devices, but have been about nothing else since they were a child leaving them a desperate situation. Some of them end up becoming Bacha Bazi pimps themselves since they feel have no other way of surviving.
Child Mining Slaves
It’s estimated that one million children are currently working as slaves in mineshafts. This number is also likely to rise due to higher prices and demand for minerals from certain countries. Children as young as three years old are being forced to work. They have to live heavy loads which put a lot of strain on their bodies, and do all this while breathing in rock dust. The dangers of working in these conditions are amplified by the fact that they are only children, which can lead to them being physically deformed or even dying. Girls working in and around the mines can be forced into prostitution or raped, this is even more dangerous considering the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in these areas.
One disturbing form of modern slavery is the child soldier. Imagine the village you once lived in being burnt to the ground, and the people you once knew being slaughtered mercilessly. You survive but only to be enslaved by the attackers and forced to kill for them. You’re only a child and don’t know how to survive on your own. Your mind is still malleable, and eventually killing is just another everyday activity. If you try to escape you’ll simply be enslaved again by the opposing force or maybe killed. You have no real education, and no choice on how to live your life. When you’re not killing, you’re engaging in modern slavery yourself. This is the life of many child soldiers.
Shrine slavery is a practice where a family gives one of their daughters, who must be a virgin, to the shrine. They do this to atone for sins committed by the family. Once given over the girl can never leave, and is raped for the rest of her life by the shrine’s priests. She’s also subjected to forced labour. They don’t get paid, and aren’t even allowed to have money. If their family’s don’t feed them, they may just starve. The priests answer to the shrine’s owner, who often has enough power to stop any repercussions from effecting the priest. If the girl dies, then the family has to send another daughter. This means any sisters of a girl owned by the shrine will be living in constant fear. This is one of the most abhorrent forms of modern slavery.
In the Persian Gulf children are being kidnapped in shocking numbers. In Pakistan alone 30 children are abducted every month. These children are kidnapped, sometimes as young as the age of two since that allows them to stunt their growth, so they perform better as jockeys. The children are put through torturous training, which can leave them mentally or physically deformed. If they’re captured at age to they’ll likely suffer through 8 years of torture and begin racing at 10. If they don’t perform well, then they may simply be killed.
Forced Fishing In Thailand
In Thailand, men looking for work are promised opportunities for factory work, but end up being captured and sold to work as fisherman instead. They’re forced to work in what can be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Right now there is a shortage of 50,000 men in the Thai fishing industry. This means that many people in the industry are desperate for workers, which is likely to be why so many people are either exploiting this, or simply turning a blind eye to it. The men are told that if they try to escape at best they’ll have the hands or legs broken, making it impossible for them to work almost any job, and at worst they’ll simply be killed.
Chocolate Industry Slaves
Child workers on the Ivory Coast work long hours working for the chocolate industry, they work, but many of them don’t even know the taste of chocolate, or what chocolate even is. The majority of the cocoa in the world is produced here, but few people know about harrowing way it reaches. There are currently thousands of child slaves on the Ivory Coast, after this was revealed the industry changed. It became much more secretive, which made it harder to expose what was happening. The children have likely been abused and beaten, and many of them suffer injuries having to do jobs that should only be done by adults. The industry is so powerful it can influence the government to stop it from intervening.
A forced marriage is when a child, normally a girl, is promised to be married to an often older man. They have no choice in the matter, and attempting to leave could have serious consequences. Sometimes the victims are given away by their parents regardless of what they actually want, and sometimes they are kidnapped and sold into it. Once married the girls often have little freedom, and can’t choose what to wear or when they can go out. They live without freedom, and have to spend their lives serving their husbands.
Trafficking For Organs
One specific type of modern slavery is enslaving humans in order to harvest and sell their organs. This type of trafficking preys on the vulnerable, for instance, after a natural disaster where many people are left without family and friends, and many children are left orphaned. These people are easy targets for slavers. This industry is partly successful because so many people need organ transplants, but aren’t able to secure them legally, meaning this is potentially the only way for them to survive.