We often hear the phrase “Working as a corporate slave”! However, this statement is made in jest, often dramatizing the woes of working in today’s job set up.
But do we ever pause and think what it must be working as a real slave? Wait, wasn’t slavery abolished long before in the 19th century?
65.8% of the slaves have their roots in Asia Pacific region
The rudimentary form yes, the organized and well-funded form, no. In fact globally, it has been on a steady rise year on year.
A multi-billion dollar industry, Modern Slavery, also know as Contemporary Slavery has reports showing generation of $150 billion dollars annually.
Who can be Termed as Modern Slave?
The United Nations research estimates show that there are approximately 27 to 30 million individuals who are engaged as modern slaves.
A person can be categorized as a slave if they are:
- Forced to work through mental/physical threat and abuse
- Owned by the employer to be viewed as a commodity or property that can be bought and sold
- Physically constrained with restrictions on free will and movement
Modern Slavery is an umbrella term that includes different spokes like bonded labor/Debt Bondage, Child Labor, Forced Labor, Descent Based Slavery, Early and Forced Marriage, Human Trafficking and Organ Trafficking.
In frequent situations, two or more of these forms are interlinked and co-exist at the same time.
The UN research estimates up to 30 million individuals who are engaged as modern slaves
65.8% of the slaves have their roots in Asia Pacific region.
Sectors that have highest instances of employing modern slaves include mines, construction sites, brick kilns, agriculture farms, hotels, retail stores, brothels, domestic set up, entertainment and textile manufacturing.
Though it has undergone a face change in current times, slavery still violates the human rights. It is as brutal and ugly as it was in the past.
Top 5 Facts that Indicate the Inhuman Side of Modern Slavery
1. Truth of Bonded Labor
Also known as Debt Bondage/attached labor/restavac, victims of this type are forced to work for free till they pay off debts to the lender.
Realistically these debts are seldom paid off, given the low or nil wages involved.
The number of bonded slaves in present day is greater than in all of recorded human history combined.
Higher numbers of debt bondages are found in South Asia.
Many a times if the owner/lender deems the debt not paid off, the slavery passes on to future generations.
Additionally if people belong to a particular ‘class or caste’ of slaves they are automatically classified into permanent slavery.
This form is known as Descent Based Slavery and is common in societies that follow strict hierarchies.
2. Profit behind Forced Labor
Victims of this slavery type have to work for long hours under cold-hearted employers and insensitive conditions.
The workers are paid negligible amount which is just enough for their subsistence.
Owners ruthlessly regulate the victims with physical threats/abuse to them or their families.
Forced Labor forms the second most profitable industry just after sexual exploitation
With numbers at $43.2 billion annually.
This profit comes at the cost of workers being trapped on foreign lands with confiscated passports and intimidating employers.
3. Heinous Child Labor Realities
Young population below 18 years is moved domestically or internationally to be exploited in multiple ways.
Though United States ranks relatively lower at 145 on Global Slavery Index (out of the total 167 countries) it is posed with serious threat of sexual slavery of children and minors, with the average age between 12 to 14 years.
On a global level, poverty amounts to a major reason for pushing children to work and prostitution, with over 1 Billion people living on less than a dollar a day. Figures suggest that –
Approximately 1.2 million children (26% of total slave population) are subjected to forced labor and sexual slavery each year
4. Human Trafficking Horror
Undoubtedly the most talked about modern day slave trade, human trafficking involves the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for forced labor or sexual favors through the use of violence, fraud or coercion.
A key contributor to the trafficking racket is the inexpensive cost of labor, which stands at an average of $90.
Human Trafficking the 3rd most profitable crime industry after Drugs and Arms Trafficking
No wonder. The end use of trafficking differs from prostitution, begging to forced marriage or organ removal.
5. Ills of Early and Forced Marriage
Girls under 18 years of age without their consent are often thrown into the doom of domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
Interestingly, while strangers recruit 54% of them, the situation is made tougher as known people recruit around 46% of these victims.
Marriage also sometimes is just a façade where husbands act as pimp by selling their wives for commercial sex acts.
2/3rd of all human trafficking victims end up getting sexually exploited
Modern Slavery – Where do we stand?
It has been around 15 years since various nations joined hands to fight against human trafficking and associated slavery issue.
However, unassumingly we buy and use everyday products and services that are made available due to slaves or with partially slavery involved like in cars, computers, mobile phones, chocolates or textiles.
Recent addition to the list is organ trafficking, where organ removal and procurement though not as common as sex or forced labor is gaining momentum in the black market.
Ireland and Iceland have lowest incidents of slavery in the world
Where on one side countries like India and Mauritania have a long way ahead of them in curbing human trafficking, there are some inspiring examples like Ireland and Iceland that have lowest incidents of slavery in the world.
UK recently accentuated its efforts in tackling modern slavery by putting into force Modern Slavery Act, 2015.
While any human can be a victim of modern slavery, migrant workers and indigenous population are specifically vulnerable to fall in the hands of this crime.
To the question when did slavery end? The answer is not 19th century where all nations got covered under global treaty and rendered slavery de jure illegal.
But the real answer lies in the notion that it can end when all forces including government, businesses, investors, social institutions, communities, schools, consumers and finally YOU take a stand against it with awareness and action.
Mitalee Chhatre, a true professional with over 5 years of corporate experience in Human Resources and Health Sector. Contributor on CakeHR where tracks the newest trends and practices of the work-life world.
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