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Slavery Still an American Reality

by Amity Paye

Photo Credit: Ungift.org

New Report Finds 60,000 Slaves in the United States Today

            As the movie “12 Years a Slave” shocks the country with the blunt horrors of slavery in the 1800s, a modern organization called Walk Free released the first ever Global Slavery Index that maps where people are living in slavery today.

According to the index, there are almost 60,000 people still living in slavery in the United States and 29.8 million people still enslaved around the world.

“Slavery is hidden away in factories, on farms, and behind closed doors, in homes and other places in the cities and towns of the world’s richest and poorest nations,” the study stated. “No matter where you are, it’s close to home.”

Slavery is illegal in almost all countries around the world. But, the definitions of what constitutes modern slavery vary.

Along with the more conventional forms of slavery like human trafficking and forced labor, the Walk Free foundation includes “slavery like practices” in its definition of modern slavery. These include debt bondage, forced marriage and sale or exploitation of children. 

Other groups like International Labor Organization, which has an End Slavery Now campaign, define slavery only as forced labor, which includes debt bondage, trafficking and modern slavery (bondage and forced work without pay).

The organization estimates there are 21 million people living as slaves across the globe and stated, “Most victims are women. But other vulnerable groups also suffer (like) children.”

This year, the United States celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which made slavery illegal.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation read, “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Now, in the United States the legal definition of slavery is, “A civil relationship in which one person has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another.”

Nevertheless, the 60,000 people still living in slavery in the United States usually go unseen. But every so often their stories hit the news.

In July, Saudi princess, Meshael Alayban, was arrested in Orange County, Calif. on human trafficking charges.

She was charged with bringing a Kenyan woman to the United States as a domestic servant.

Alayban allegedly took the maid’s passport and paid her just $220 a month to work 16 hours a day, seven days per week.

A judge dropped the charges before the maid could testify in court.

According to ABCNews.com, “almost 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry, according to the U.S. Department of State statistics.”

And as preparations are under way in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, international attention has increasingly looked to the thousands of immigrants from Nepal dying at an average of 12 per day according to the Guardian, while working on the construction sites.

Unfortunately, slavery may seem like a thing of the past but obviously for millions across the world it is a modern reality.   

This article was published on Friday 08 November, 2013.
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