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Modern Slavery: An Invisible Epidemic

Often unseen, misunderstood, and well hidden in complex socio-economic structures, modern slavery takes various forms. This includes, including but not limited to forced labor, human trafficking, indentured servitude, and exploitation. Despite the fact that many developed countries have abolished the forms of slavery depicted in history books, there are still large global populations globally that suffer under the oppression of modern-day slavery. While modern slavery takes on many forms, the broadest categories of modern slavery fall into the categories of human trafficking and forced labor.

Human trafficking is technically defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” Human trafficking is especially common in children, who are often groomed by perpetrators and coerced into labor. Nearly 50 million people are affected by human trafficking yearly. Of these, 12 million are children. These numbers are more than simple statistics. They represent millions of innocent individuals who have had every basic human right stripped from them and are forced to sacrifice their freedom for the greed and wealth of another.

In addition, forced labor and indentured servitude are other forms of modern-day slavery. Forced labor victims are often subjected to cruel and potentially abusive working conditions, for little to no pay. Forced laborers are most commonly individuals who already have very little, and don’t have a better alternative. For example, adult migrant workers are 3 times more susceptible to being coerced into forced labor. Additionally, these workers usually lack the family and community support needed to be financially independent.

To this day, modern slavery occurs in some form in nearly every nation on this planet. As we strive for a more just and equal world, it is important to raise awareness about modern slavery and support every action toward dismantling systems that enable these egregious violations of basic human rights. 

Works Cited

“International Day for the Abolition of Slavery | United Nations.” the United Nations, 2 December 2023, https://www.un.org/en/observances/slavery-abolition-day. Accessed 4 February 2024.

“2022 Trafficking in Persons Report - United States Department of State.” State Department, https://www.state.gov/reports/2022-trafficking-in-persons-report/. Accessed 4 February 2024.

“What is Modern Slavery? - United States Department of State.” State Department, https://www.state.gov/what-is-modern-slavery/. Accessed 4 February 2024.

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