It Is Far Past The Time To End Slavery

A child mines gold in Watsa, northeastern Congo, in 2004. Photo credit: Marcus Bleasdale

Here is a radical idea. Humanity should end slavery. The abolition movement remains unfinished. There are millions of literal slaves across the world working in massive industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, and the sex industry. Data from the Global Slavery Index (GSI) found that there were 45.8 million people living in some form of slavery across the 167 countries data was available for in 2016.

Many of these people are trapped in exploitative labor, where they are paid little, abused, and forced to work outrageous hours. But there are also still slaves. People who are forced to live and work indefinitely for an owner. Some of these people are bonded to a master like child brides,  or others who were tricked into taking jobs abroad, where their passports were confiscated and their labor is forced to pay off a debt..

Abolitionism needs an international resurgence. A victim of forced labor mined some of the metals in your computer, caught some of the fish in the grocery story, and made some of the clothing on the department store racks. Slavery is driven by consumerism and the Corporate hunt for profit at any cost. According to End Slavery Now, 90% of forced labor benefits commercial enterprises. The other 10% comes from state-sanctioned labor camps and other programs.

An open slave market of migrants and refugees has grown out of the chaos in Libya. A spokesman for the UN International Organization for Migration announced the situation a few weeks ago, calling it “dire”. The Libyan coast is a popular spot for migrant boats to depart for Europe. The slave market sells the more unfortunate refugees who fall into their hands. But the fact that there is an open market in people in Libya should not detract from the prevalence of slavery in more developed countries. The GSI estimates that there are almost 58,000 people living in modern slavery in the US, almost 12,000 in the United Kingdom. This does not consider that many of the people who live in modern slavery make products that meet the demands of Western consumers. Last year an AP reporter helped liberate more than 2000 slaves being used on Thai fishing boats. This fish gets to the US.

People being sold in Libya this year.

There are many groups combating human trafficking and forced labor. Operation Underground Railroad liberates child sex slaves across the world through undercover missions and investigations in tandem with local and international law enforcement. Other organizations such as Polaris and Shared Hope International focus more on lobbying, advocacy, and awareness campaigns. The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking focuses on helping the victims of slavery to recover, and return to society. And Ashton Kutcher founded Thorn, an organization that researches and designs software to help catch sex traffickers.

These anti-trafficking organizations and strong anti-trafficking laws give the West great Government Response Ratings in the GSI. However, as the documentary 13th made clear, ever since slavery was abolished in the USA laws have been implemented which make the labor of prisoners available for practically nothing. The Capitalists still require barely-compensated labor to make their system continue functioning. This is as true in the USA as it is in Cambodia, Nicaragua, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The great American abolitionists need millennials to finish their job. Either our liberty is inalienable or it is not, most Westerners like to believe that it is. That means it is inalienable for us all. So join in with the modern day abolition movement, because it will not happen without your outrage.

American prison laborers.



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