modern slavery


It is clear that slavery played a big role in the human history, but does such a thing as slavery still exist today? And is slavery illegal everywhere? The answer to the first question is yes, slavery still exits. Slavery is defined by the Anti-Slavery organisation by four factors. First, being a slave means forced to work, through mental or physical threat. Secondly, being owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse. Also, being dehumanised, this means being treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property'. And last, a slave is someone who is physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his or her freedom of movement.

So slavery still exists, but is it illegal? Officialy yes, yet in countries in which the governing political group is weak or nonexistent, slavery can be described as ´legal`. For example in Africa there are potions of "No-mans-land" in which the area is not governed by a political group. Instead, groups of guerrilla warfare soldiers maintain these areas and thus create "governing" rules of their province. Sudan, Niger, and some tribal chiefs in Iraq also practice ´legal` slavery.

So it is a common thing there, but can also be found in every other country in the world, even the most wealthiest and advanced ones. But what kind of slavery exists nowadays? Surely, slaves are not sold at auctions anymore and work on the field, the so called “human trafficking“ works in the ´underground`. There are many types of slavery, effecting millions of people around the world.   

One of them is forced labor. This occurs when employers exploit workers made more vulnerable by high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption or political conflict. A lot of these slaves are immigrants, but not all of them. When these slaves are female, they are very often sexually harassed, too.

Furtheron, there is sex trafficking. These means that an adult, or even a child, in a case of child sex trafficking, is forced into prostitution or maintained in it. It is called trafficking because it includes recruiting, transporting, harboring, receiving, or obtaining a person. It can also be the result of an unlawful debt, so the slaves have to pay it off to be free, and this can take a lifetime and even pass through the next generations, so the children of the slave are also forced to work this job.

This is also called bonded labour, a person is tricked into taking a loan, which can be as small as money for medicine for a child, and then they have to work a lifetime without pay to work it off.

And finally, something often mentioned in the news is child soldiering, it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children, mostly through force, as combatants. People who ´recruit` these children may be government forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. But it does not only include fighting in wars, others are made unlawfully to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry or have sex with male combatants. Both male and female child soldiers are often sexually abused and are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

As already mentioned, modern slavery takes place in every country. This also includes England, or, more specific, London, the city where the novel ´´Hearts and Minds`` by Amanda Craig takes place. It deals with five main characters, all with an immigrational background. Which one of these can be described as modern slaves? There are two illegal immigrants, that work under the worst of conditions, and these include Job and Anna. But Job, having to work sixteen hours a day, with two jobs that have very low wage, still chooses to do this by his own free will. He is not forced to do anything, so Job is not a slave. The example for a modern slave, that Craig illustrates, is Anna. She is forced into prostitution, under the pretence that she has to pay off the debt for immigrating. So she is a victim of child sex trafficking, as she is underage, and of bonded labour. On page 156 and 157, Anna describes her situation and the ones of her ´colleagues`,other victims by comparing it to a chicken run. Like the chicken, that can’t stop pecking at a white line even though there is no food on it, the female slaves can’t move from the ´´white line`` that men draw for them. So this shows how how slavery is not only a physical state, but also a state of mind, and there is no escape.

A real life victim of child sex trafficking, Dalyn, now 17 years old, was forced to work as a prostitute in Cambodia, and now lives in a shelter. Her condition must have been like that of many young sex slaves, and she illustrated it quite well for the BBC News: ´´It is slavery of the worst kind. They have total power over you - they get you to do anything they want. (…) By the end of it, you will end up lower then you can ever imagine... in hell.``

On page 205 of ´´Hearts and Minds`` a sentence can be found, that efficiently sums up the topic modern slavery: ´´How light money is, and how heavy the price``.