In schools, we’re taught that slavery is an awful occurrence of the past. Yet, our society isn’t free of slavery entirely. “Modern slavery” is being highlighted as an issue that impacts people across the world.
Today, modern slavery is often seen as a by-product of poverty. It’s about exploiting people and trapping them for labor or some kind of service (often sexual exploitation). Those who live in poverty are often most vulnerable, which is why those of a certain socioeconomic often fall victim to it. However, they are not the only individuals impacted. People who are discriminated against or not protected well by law are often exploited by those in power.
Let’s take an in-depth look at modern slavery and if we’re doing everything we can as a society to stop it.
What to know about modern slavery
Anti-slavery groups around the world are helping lift the veil on modern slavery. Some conservative estimates suggest that around 40.3 million people are currently enslaved. This happens in the form of both human trafficking and sex trafficking. Human trafficking may occur through forced labor in factories, construction sites, fishing boats, and agricultural industries.
Because it totals nearly 25 million, this makes slave labor a significant part of the global supply chain. Not only is modern slavery an enormous humanitarian issue, but it’s also a corporate problem. As slave labor proliferates, the global supply chain continues to rely on it. The pressure is on for companies to take responsibility for their own responsible employment practices.
How we can help end modern slavery
Because there are still millions enslaved, we have not yet done enough to help end modern slavery as a society.
- Learn more. This is a huge issue, but not everyone knows about it. It’s okay to admit that you still have a lot to learn about modern slavery and how it impacts your daily life. Look online to understand what someone in your position can do to help.
- Know who you’re buying from. It doesn’t matter if you’re anti-modern slavery if you don’t put your money where your mouth is. Unfortunately, some big-name companies often use low wage workers overseas in unsafe and unsanitary factories. Sadly, this often leads to forced labor and child slavery. Ensure your money is being used correctly and check to see if your favorite companies have ethical work practices. If they don’t, don’t buy from them.
- Donate to anti-slavery organizations. Ending slavery takes education and resources. Poverty is a huge issue that keeps this cycle spinning. Top charities like Restavek Freedom that have local branches overseas and that are equipped with cultural knowledge and staff can help fight this issue on the frontlines.
- Volunteer at a local anti-trafficking organization. Look in your area to see if there are any local organizations you can get involved with. Remember, this isn’t just an issue abroad. It may be an issue where you least expect it (in your own backyard!).
- Sponsor a child or family. Because poverty is such a huge issue, helping to fund a child or family in need may just make the difference for them.
Just because you can’t see modern slavery doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. People often slip into forced labor because they are too poor to move out of a detrimental situation. Learning more about this topic and helping to support vulnerable populations through donations, volunteering, and daily actions can help stop this awful occurrence.