Yes, Slavery Still Exists

By: Zoya Wazir

At the beginning of man, we were simpler creatures. Men and women hunted and gathered alongside one another without the question of equality and liberty interjecting into their life’s purpose: survival. However, with the development of small communities which turned to more complex civilizations, our priorities expanded and we suddenly wanted more than to simply survive -- we wanted to thrive. Therefore, man began to enslave one another and the once simple quest for life turned into a quest for something much more dangerous: a quest for power.

It is almost ironic how as we progressed, we turned on one another and made distinctions between ourselves only skin deep. Slavery has been a prevalent practice throughout human existence and is often seen as a scar on the shining face of our history textbooks. The way we reminisce on the horrors of slavery, especially in the Western world, can make it seem as if it is merely a nightmare of our past. Unfortunately, slavery is much more than a distant regret. It is a dehumanizing practice that is still prevalent in our world today.

“Elementary students across America are taught that slavery ended in the 19th Century. But, sadly, nearly 150 years later, the fight to end this global scourge is far from over.” --Hillary Rodham Clinton

Approximately 29.8 million people are enslaved worldwide. Among these people, about 78 percent are enslaved for labor while the other 22 percent are enslaved for sex. These victims live in every corner of the globe, from Asia to Africa to even, as progressive as we claim to be, the United States.

Yes, in America, land of the free, slavery exists. In the United States alone, about 60,000 people are victims of slavery. This shows how slavery not only infiltrates developing nations, but also negatively affects countries that are viewed as “progressive” by the rest of the world.

Along with prevailing throughout the world, slavery also preys on those already disadvantaged by society, such as women. In fact, over half of the victims of human trafficking worldwide are women. Women are especially targeted in the sex trafficking industry, which lures uneducated people from impoverished areas with the promise of a job to take care of their family. Sex traffickers also use marriage to trap their victims, as poor families in nations such as India and Pakistan, where marriage is highly valued, are often faced with difficulty when finding a groom for their daughters. Therefore, sex traffickers take this vulnerability as an opportunity to profit and approach these women under the illusion of cross-country dating agencies, only to sell them as sex workers later on.

Similarly, human traffickers target children as well as women because they are weaker and therefore easier to attain and control. Unfortunately, 26 percent of slaves are children under the age of 18 for this reason. Children are not only used for labor purposes, but also for military purposes as well. This is especially prevalent in Africa, in which militia groups will kidnap children and force them to work in their army and commit violent acts from an early age.

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, slavery is still a prevalent issue in today’s society. While we have progressed over time, slavery did not end with its abolishment in America and it will not end until every country, Western or not, takes action against the atrocities that its people are forced to endure. True freedom cannot exist until each individual has a guarantee to have their personal liberties preserved, and eradicating slavery from the world is a lofty goal, but a necessary one to achieve this goal.