When I was at school, we were taught about how slavery was abolished in Britain and the USA. This was obviously a good thing.
It came as a shock to find out, some years ago now, that there are more slaves in the world than ever before.
The awful truth
People trafficking is the coercive trade of human beings to provide cheap or free labour – effectively slavery. It is happening around the world, and leaves millions of powerless people in misery.
There are estimated to be somewhere between 20 & 30 million slaves in the world today (the figure currently being quoted is 27 million).
Somewhere between 3 and 6 million people are trafficked into slavery each year. About three quarters are women or girls, and over a million are children.
Most of these victims end up in prostitution and the sex industry generally, with many others being forced into slave labour, including begging. Some are made to fight in armed forces and a few become victims of the trade in body parts. Trafficking victims generally face slavery, debt bondage or servitude, often for life. Abuse, threats and even torture are commonly used to force compliance.
Trafficking generally preys on vulnerable people who are poor and powerless. Some are kidnapped (homeless children are especially vulnerable), others are lured away under false pretences, and some are sold by their families or given up under threat.
Changing the world
The United Nations, governments and non-profit organisations are all developing ways of combatting this menace. Actions include:
- pressing governments worldwide for stronger legislation and action against trafficking,
- aid and care for poor at-risk children,
- education of teachers, local governments and tourism operators in locations where trafficking occurs, and
- where possible, rescue and safe re-settlement of victims.
There are movements you can support
Get a fuller picture
You can find more detail on my website at People shouldn’t be bought and sold, which includes references to where you can find more facts and links to organisations seeking to make a difference.
Stop the Traffik
Stop the Traffik is a coalition of organisations and individuals, set up about 6 years ago, to fight human trafficking. Its website can give you ideas on things you can do to help.
Louis Giglio and others have launched the “End it” campaign on Facebook and its own website, and a much publicised recent Shine a Light on Slavery Day. I’m not sure what “End it” is planning to do, but it has raised millions of dollars and argues: “Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern–day slavery, but nothing will EVER happen until we are.”.
Coffee and chocolate
One practical thing most of us can do is avoid buying chocolate and coffee that is not certified as “traffick-free” via Fair Trade or other certification system. You can read more about this at The bitter truth about chocolate.
Let’s start to seek out Fair Trade alternatives, they don’t cost much more, and the extra costs is to stop the slavery. If we had to DO the flogging of the enslaved child before we could have our chocolate or coffee, we’d never eat or drink “Unfair Trade” again.