What is slavery? Any work that you do contrary to your own values is slavery. In the modern world, we hardly think of terms like ‘slavery’, perceiving it as a concept of the bygone days. But is it? Slavery is quite prominent in today’s world, just that we choose not to talk about it. We might see things around us, but turn a blind eye to them, or a deaf ear. Yes, slavery still exists all around the world in some form or the other. Of course life is easier when you think you are unaware of such things, but what if you are a part of it? What if you are also working as a slave for someone and are blissfully unaware of it? Albeit, that is nearly impossible. Slavery, in the modern day, is more ruthless and merciless than ever before. Here is a list showing ways in which slavery still is a part of our world.
10. Illiteracy of the masses
One of the major reasons for slavery today is that in some parts of the world, people are still illiterate. Illiteracy has led people to unawareness which in turn has led them into either forced labor or worse circumstances. Sometimes you could find yourself in a situation, from which you do not know a way out, that is illiteracy. Because of illiteracy, people in the rural areas, are ignorant of the minimum wage rate. This leads them to succumb to meager amounts just to meet the basic livelihood. Illiteracy leads people to forced labor, the kind which might illegal as well. In the Indian rural scenario, the male child is taught, the female child is left uneducated. This leads her to fall prey to many forms of slavery. Be it forced to get married at an early age, or domestic slavery. It could be said the this is the root of all evil, illiteracy and unawareness.
9. Lack of alternatives
People are working like cattle for a very little pay because of the lack of alternatives. Sometimes one job is not sufficient for the main bread-earner of the family to cater to the whole family. He/she is forced to taking up a second or a third job, which pays drastically less, just to sustain the many mouths that they have to feed. It is so commonly seen that a very qualified person working a job that is severely underpaid. Why? Because there are not many jobs left in this highly competitive world. People are so often faced with difficult circumstances, which makes them helpless and take up anything and everything that comes their way. For instance, the case of the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar who were deported – there were as many as more than 4 lac people who went to Bangladesh and India. Obviously they are living under-cover. This is a sign of the lack of alternatives. These people and others who are or have been a part of such political upheavals, have to work for very little pay and keep themselves under hiding, to protect their lives. This has been the case since the First World War. Yes, lack of alternatives is a very important factor which leads to forced slavery.
As Nelson Mandela said, “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings”. Poverty is one of the main reasons why people fall for poverty, willingly. Knowing it is against human rights, people are forced to do things which are rather inhuman. Be it working in coal mines, sending children to work, agreeing to prostitution or selling body parts, they all arise from the root of poverty. The only way poverty can be dealt with is proper education. An educated person can somehow or the other make his way through the world. Basic education can help a person earn a descent livelihood through the right means. It is the duty of the Government to make sure the backward classes and the rural poor are educated and fed. It is obvious from the current scenario where things are lacking. Poverty and helplessness can lead a person into really dark and irrecoverable paths.
7. Bonded Labor
What is bonded labor? When someone is forced to work as a repayment of a loan or a debt for little or no wage, it is called bonded labor. Although it is not one of the major reasons of slavery, it is a very important one. People end up working their entire lives for their “master” and are majorly underpaid, or in many cases, not paid at all. In rural parts of India, bonded labor was quite prominent. People were forced to work in brick kilns in Punjab. This is equivalent to saying you are giving yourself up to someone for a very meager sum you or your father had borrowed. This is again hinting towards illiteracy and unawareness. If only people knew they could go to local banks and take a loan, they would refrain from going to such monsters. Yes, this could very lead to the discussion of under-developed economy of the area. If there are no such local banks for these helpless people, they are forced to go the loan-sharks. Bonded labor can be stopped once people are educated and the economy of the place is developing.
6. The growth in population
Excessive growth in the population is a key factor which leads to slavery. Firstly, because people are uneducated, they do not know about modern day inventions like the birth control pill or using other forms of contraception. As the number of mouths to feed int he family increases, there are more chances of succumbing to slavery in some form or the other. People tend to sell themselves, both metaphorically and literally, to help sustain their family. Also, due to overpopulation, the number of jobs are decreasing for everyone. Earlier if there were 100 vacancies, now there are 10. People belonging to backward countries try to go to the richer countries to earn their livelihood. Where in turn, they work like slaves for a very minimum pay. Overpopulation is very concerning issue and each family, or the one’s who are about to start a family, must take it upon themselves as a moral duty to not add more inhabitants to the Earth than required.
5. Multinational Corporations (MNC’s)
They are probably the main slaveholders in the whole world. Building a big office with nice decor, just to make people work like cows for a very little pay. Because of the decreasing job opportunities, people agree to work for any amount just earn for their families. And the MNC’s take huge advantage of such helpless people. They extract cheap labor and gain the name of the modern day slaveholders. It is surprising how everything is so vastly inter-related. Illiteracy leads to overpopulation, which in turn leads to less job opportunities, which leads to people working as cattle in MNC’s. Isn’t it obvious there has to be something done at the very base of the problem? As Abraham Lincoln said, “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow”.
4. Marital and Sexual Slavery
Believe it or not, marital slavery is one of the most prevalent and evil kind of slavery that there can be. Young girls are forced to marry older men, sometimes men who are even three decades elder to them. Parents think it as a way of losing burden from over their heads. But the girl is forced to live the life of a slave in the house she married into. Be it working day and night in the kitchen, or sleeping with a man whom you are not comfortable with, these are all forms of slavery. Sexual slavery also falls under this. You are forced to make sexual contact with a person even when you are unwilling. It is so difficult for some orthodox societies to understand or even acknowledge the concept of sexual slavery in marriages or rapes in marriages. They think if the girl is married to the man, he has the right to do anything he wishes with the girl. But it is so wrong on so many levels. A person should never be forced to have sex just because they are married. Yes, rapes in marriages do exist. It is a cry nobody lends an ear to. Sexual slavery does not only adhere to marriages. It is done to any girl or boy who is unwilling to engage in the act. You become someone’s sexual pet, sometimes not even for money.
3. Child Labor
Grace Abbott says, “Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use labor of children as treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time”. Child labor is a very vicious and heartless kind of slavery. When a child is forced to work, not only is the child’s life traumatized by that incident, his brain adapts to such harmful scenarios and shapes the child into a very different person. Child labor has the ability to hamper a person’s entire life. Children are forced to work in coal mines, agricultural fields, brick kilns, fishing industry, and most prevalent today is beggary. Children are forced to beg on the streets in countries like India. The money they get at the end of the day is handed over to some superior person in the racket and it goes on and on. Children who could have the brightest of futures, if they went to school, are forced to beg. It is the monstrous face of slavery that comes around when a child is laboring. There is possible excuse or reason, child labor is child abuse.
“Prostitution happens to you because of troubles you had. In reality, no woman would choose to do that” – Catherine Deneuve. It is so important to understand that a woman would never wish or want something as cruel as prostitution. In prostitution, you not only sell sex, you sell your humanity. It is like agreeing that you are a bought body and have no or rather deserve no human dignity. Slaveholder, for a prostitute, is every man who comes in and pays to have sex with her. She did not choose to become this slave, societal conditions forced her into selling her body. Every time a girl is forced into prostitution, a voice dies, a soul dies. Why is it that the prostitute alone faces the criticism and not the man feasting on her? Is it only because of her poverty and helplessness? Yes, that is why a woman turns into a prostitute, circumstances which leave her helpless.
1. Human Trafficking
What is human trafficking? The simplest answer is that it is modern day slavery. It is a crime committed not only against the person who is bought and sold, but also the whole of humanity. It is a disgrace to the whole society we live in where high values and morals are upheld. People are sold from one country to another with the basic aim of either forced labor, or sex purposes or commercial sex activities. People are seen as mere objects and are denied all humanly rights. They are not even seen as slaves, they are seen as objects. People in the pron business and prostitution engage mostly in human trafficking. Countries like China, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Ghana and Brazil are notorious for human trafficking. As said by a childhood victim of sex trafficking, “The strongest thing we have isn’t our fists, it’s our words. It’s what we do. So fight.”
Slavery was abolished nearly a century and half ago, yet there are more people suffering as victims of slavery today than ever before in history. “We realize the importance of our voice once we are silenced” – Malala. If you see injustice occurring near you, raise your voice, because injustice anywhere is justice denied everywhere.