Long before the invent of Arab and Atlantic slave trade which led to brutalisation and oppression of Africans which also compelled them to work against their will in the Arab world, Europe and America, slavery has been in existence. Several mentions of maidservants are in the bible. The word maidservant is sometimes interchanged with bondservant in the bible; bondservant simply means slave.
Instances of slave transaction, slave inheritance, and giving slaves as gift are in the bible. In the book of Genesis, king Abimelech gave Abraham gift of maidservants as a show of kindness; Sarai had a bondservant; Isaac was described as a person who had great store of servants; Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban inherited his slave to his daughter (Rachael) as a gift etc. The book of Exodus also recorded the story of Joseph getting sold by his siblings to the Ish’meelites who in turn sold Joseph to Pharaoh’s officer (Potiphar); Moses also narrated his encounter with the Israelites working under burden in Egypt and also stated a case of an Israelite being smitten by an Egyptian.
While slavery has been formally abolished worldwide with Mauritania being the last country on earth to abolish slavery in 1981 and finally criminalised it in 2007, there are still proofs of slavery in the world which mostly exist in hidden forms thereby making it difficult to know the actual magnitude of modern slavery in the world.
In 2013, Home Office released a figure of 13,000 as the estimated number of victims of modern slavery in the United Kingdom with Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam, and Romania topping the list of nationals mostly involved. Modern slavery includes human trafficking, child labour, forced begging, domestic servitude, forced labour, child and organ harvesting, child soldier, etc. Modern slavery remains a big threat and challenge to the world. From a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are about 168 million child labours worldwide.
The 2014 Global Slavery Index also estimated about 35.8 million victims of modern slavery worldwide. India with 14 million people, china with 3.2 million people, and Pakistan with 2.1 million people tops the list of countries with peak victims of modern slavery worldwide. For the first time in history, Taiwan, South Sudan, North Korea, Kosovo, and Cyprus joins the list of Global Slavery Index for the first time in 2014. The most vulnerable countries to modern slavery according to 2014 Global Slavery Index includes Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, Syria, Libya, North Korea, and Afghanistan.
Slave markets are still in operation as of date. Towards the end of 2014, Amnesty international released a devastating report of Yazidi and Kurdish women and girls in Iraq and Syria respectively for as little as 10 years old being tortured, sexually enslaved and sold for as little as $25. In May 2014, Boko Haram leader Shekau claims he sold Chibok girls kidnapped in North-East, Nigeria into slavery. It was widespread that the Chibok girls were sold at the market place across borders in Cameroon and Chad for as low as $12.
Widespread poverty, crisis, terrorism, etc facilitates modern slavery. False promises of lucrative jobs in the cities and abroad have lured people into modern slavery as they seek to improve their standard of living. After some of the victims of modern slavery have been lured with lucrative jobs abroad, agreements with threats and punishments have been used to exploit and keep loyal the victims of modern slavery. They are still people enslaved due to generational debts. Modern slavery is void of physical restrictions like chains to restrict the freedom of the enslaved; it currently involves majorly of psychological imprisonment which makes it so difficult for the victims of slavery to voice out against their masters and hence, complications and complexity in phasing out modern slavery.
We all have to come together as one to phase out the evil of slavery in all forms of its existence in order to stop the brutalisation and oppression against humanity in the name of slavery.
“We all have a God-given right to be free.” – Pope Francis
Photo credit: studentforliberty