Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude …shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. — 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
This morning’s news about allegations that the father of “Slumdog Millionaire” child star, Rubina Ali, tried to sell the 9-year-old for $290,000 appears to have come as a shock to the world. While the act, if true, is reprehensible and deplorable it should come as no shock to anyone who has been paying attention.
Those who are shocked by this story, need to know that slavery did not end in 1863. Slavery was officially abolished worldwide at the 1927 Slavery Convention, yet it continues to thrive throughout the world. Experts estimate that today, there are 27 million people enslaved around the world. 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally every year. It is believed that women and children account for approximately 80% of them. The majority of the slaves can be found in India and in African countries. But don’t stop reading!
Here, in the land of the free, the CIA estimates that up to 17,000 people are trafficked into the US every year. I am encouraged that President Obama, in August, 2008, stated:
”This has to be a top priority… What we have to do is to create better, more effective tools for prosecuting those who are engaging in human trafficking… Sadly, there are thousands who are trapped in various forms of enslavement here in our country… It is a debasement of our common humanity.”
A difficulty in making Americans aware that this is such a widespread problem is the sanitation of the language we use to discuss it. It has become common to use “trafficking” (brings to mind nothing more than an annoyance, right?) rather than “slavery,” a word which moves us to anger and action. People who wish to keep their head in the sand, or who have an agenda other than fighting for the freedom of all people, will make arguments against the use of the word “slavery.” Frederick Douglass warned us about this.
It has been called a great many names, and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume, in what new skin this old snake will come forth. — Frederick Douglass (regarding slavery)
I strongly recommend reading Kevin Bales’s book, “Ending Slavery” (link to google preview) as an introduction to modern slavery. I found it to be the most enlightening book I’ve read in the past two years and made me want to learn more and do more.
You can learn more about the subject, and how you can make a difference, by going to Free The Slaves. Another good resource is iAbolish , from the American Anti-Slavery Group. A site that I just found and haven’t had much time to explore (but my first impression is very positive) is Love146, dedicated to ending child sex slavery & exploitation.
“The first step in ending modern slavery is teaching the public that it still exists.” -The AASG website