March 16 - End Modern Day Slavery

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Modern Day Slavery is real slavery: where people are held against their will, under violence or threat of violence, and unable to walk away. They are either never paid or paid irregularly, either in the form of food or money, the sum of which is far below any minimum wage standards; typically they are paid only enough to survive another day. They are trapped in brothels, factories, mines, farm fields, and many more industries. Women and girls account for 71 per cent of all victims of modern slavery. That means one in every 130 women and girls is living in modern slavery.
 
Voices4Freedom, an organization committed to working to ending slavery, knows that to achieve their goal, we must keep in mind what causes it. It begins with degrading the value of human life. A lethal combination of overpopulation, poverty and corruption devalues and dehumanizes entire populations of people – making their lives “cheap” and “disposable.” This opens up the possibility of exploitation with no regard to human rights.
 
Corruption and apathy play big roles in why a government may remain complicit in slavery. Powerful entities that profit from modern day slavery often pressure and bribe governments and law enforcement so that they can continue exploiting without repercussions. Many governments perpetuate the issue by dismissing the reality of slavery in their country. A new study conducted by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab revealed that 94 countries have no criminal law against slavery.
 
The hidden nature of modern day slavery presents many obstacles. What may look like a legitimate job or enterprise could in fact be debt bondage slavery, forced labor or one of the many different types of modern day slavery. Without the right knowledge and toolset, modern day slavery can exist right under our noses – even in our own communities. Some governments argue that their inaction stems from an inability, usually due to a lack of resources, to identify where or how this problem is occurring. Likewise, people who are enslaved may not be able to even recognize that they are being exploited. They may believe the terms of their employment are legitimate and don’t recognize the methods of force, fraud or coercion that were used to enslave them.
 
Racism, xenophobia, climate change, and civil unrest all perpetuate pre-existing vulnerabilities and create new ones which increase the potential for exploitation. In the case of climate refugees and other refugees, slave holders are tricking these victims into slavery in exchange for their relocation.
 
The structural and cultural racism which have existed throughout history are still at play in modern day slavery in the obvious, and insidious, ways. More obviously, minority groups and vulnerable people have continued to be targeted as victims of modern day slavery. However, even the popular anti-modern day slavery efforts usually have an element of structural and cultural racism, in the form of white savior complex. When organizations “helicopter in” for “rescue missions,” such efforts rarely address the factors which make people vulnerable to modern day slavery in the first place. Sustainable freedom requires a rights education, vocational skills training, a psychological healing, and empowerment to believe in their right to be free.
 
 
Actions to Take
 
  1. Learn about the history of slavery.
  2. Read the Palermo Protocol (https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ProtocolTraffickingInPersons.aspx) to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
  3. Learn about organizations like Voices 4Freedom (https://www.voices4freedom.org/),  Freedom United (https://www.freedomunited.org/), Free the Slaves (https://www.freetheslaves.net/)  and the work they are doing globally to end the practice of slavery, sex trafficking and exploitation.
  1. Buy Slave Free. Shop with businesses that are transparent, examine their supply chains and buy fair trade or locally-sourced products.
  2. Use your social media to teach others about contemporary slavery.
  3. Use your voice to demand that your local and national government representatives stop modern day slavery practices.
  4. Learn from survivors.
  5. Support groups whose primary goal is to end slavery.
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