In present day society, we often hear people speak about slavery as if it were in the past. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Just 7 months ago, the Washington Post reported that the International Labor Office estimated the number of people being forced into labor was 40.3 million in 2016.
25.5 million of the estimated figure are enslaved in Asia, 9.2 million in Africa, 3.6 million in Europe, 1.95 million in the Americas, and 520 thousand in Arab countries. According to the Global Slavery Index, 18.5 million people are enslaved in India; commonly known as the world’s modern day slave capital. Of the people in modern day slavery, 71 percent are either women or young girls.
The estimated total includes all types of slavery. 64 percent are victims of private forced labor, 19 percent are victims of sex trafficking, and 17 percent are victims of state-sponsored forced labor.
Though the largest amount of people in forced labor are found in Asia, the actual practice of slave-trading is most prevalent in Africa. There, specifically in Libya, men and women are sold at auctions for as little as $400. These types of auctions are held behind closed doors, and in many cases, after the auction is over, the slaves are piled into overloaded boats and smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea into Asian, Arab, and European countries.
In come cases, slaves sold in Libya are not sold for good. In these abominable practices, slaves are sold to do work, but once that work is finished, they are returned to their captors only to be resold again in a horrifying cycle that never ends. While being held, slaves are starved, abused, mutilated and forced to live in repulsing, unsanitary conditions that lead to disease and death. Due to this, African migrants who dream of reaching Europe have lost hope. Many of them refrain from attempting to flee, as reaching North Africa means reaching slave-trade markets that put them at risk of being kidnapped and held in captivity forever.
From now on, when someone tells you slavery is no longer a problem, tell them to think again. Just because slavery in America is no longer as prevalent as it was between the 18th and 19th centuries does not mean it isn’t still an issue. In fact, there are millions more slaves today than there were long ago. What changed? The practice has become more discrete, making it harder to pinpoint and prosecute the individuals making profits from human trafficking.
Want to help? Donate today to Free the Slaves; an international non-governmental organization dedicated to putting a stop to modern day slavery around the globe.