Modern day slavery is real, is happening here and all over the world. An estimated 27 million victims around the world tells the truth about slavery.
The truth is that there are more slaves today than in the entire history of the 300 years of the old slave trade. It is estimated that between 9 and 11 million Africans were enslaved by European traders during the transatlantic trade. It is estimated that there are 27 million people trapped in modern day slavery, but that is most likely a low estimate.
The truth is that in the time that it takes you to read this article 10 more people will have been sold into slavery somewhere in the world.
The truth is that all of us “own” slaves around the world through the products and produce we buy (check out www.slaveryfootprint.org).
Your t-shirt might well contain cotton picked by children in Uzbekistan; your phone probably has capacitors in it made of Coltan from mines in Congo where child labourers work; the coffee you’re sipping could potentially have been harvested by one of the estimated 200,000 child slaves working in the Ivory Coast where 40% of the world’s cocoa beans are grown.
The truth is that there are millions of people around the world who are forced to work for very little or no pay and under the constant threat of violence and are unable to walk away.
The truth is that slavery is very much a modern day problem.
In brothels and farms and sweatshops; in homes, quarries and on building sites the world over, slavery is rife. Human beings are used as commodities, bought and sold. Human beings created in the image of a loving God having that image defiled in ways we cannot imagine.
For many of these people, the heinous injustice of slavery is not the only suffering they have experienced. Research suggests that at least 3 in 4 modern day slaves come from a background of extreme poverty.
Just pause a moment and think about that.
The most vulnerable in our global society are picked out and have that very vulnerability exploited and abused. Simply put, they are easy targets because of the poverty that they suffer and it becomes the very thing that causes their incarceration.
Slavery is a complex and detailed and involves evil people doing heinous things. But if we can combat poverty we can go a long way to removing a swathe of people who are most vulnerable to slavery; as we walk alongside people and give them a foot up through education and development and skills training and building work and other myriad ways, we help remove the desperation that traffickers prey upon. The vulnerability that leads to exploitation is removed.
So, how can you and I help to combat slavery? By speaking up, by raising awareness, by signing our petition, by raising money and by praying. But, we can also do it by helping to end extreme poverty.
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” – Nelson Mandela, Make Poverty History 2005