Slavery: it didn’t end all those years ago…

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Ira Gelb
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Ira Gelb

By Sumaya

On the 19th of June, an article was published by Sky News; it was written that a mentally disabled woman and her son were allegedly kept as slaves for many months by three people who threatened them with snakes and a pit bull dog. She only managed to get away after she stole from a shop, and was gladly welcomed by police, whom she told she’d rather be arrested than go back home. The victims have not yet been named. So, what is this? What is modern day slavery? Refugees sometimes face the same thing, and escape to come here, which is why refugee week takes place. You may ask how it affects us, and more importantly, how does it affect adults and children across the world…

Slavery. Something we all thought was abolished in 1833, with the dawn of a new age. Influential people like Martin Luther and Rosa Parks stood for what they believed in and the people listened. However, no matter how shocking it may seem, slavery still exists all over the world, particularly with children being forced to work in factories. Not only that, but they work in extreme conditions – boiling summer heat, and they are paid so little, they can just about afford daily meals. This puts their health, education, personal and social development, and even their lives in danger. Whatever you may think, slavery is far from over.

Charities are supposed to work endlessly to help solve extreme problems. This is an extreme problem. You may ask just how big this problem is.

The problem is larger and vaster than the mind could even begin to imagine. The international labour organisation is an organisation that promotes rights at work, encourages decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. They estimate that around about 215 million child labourers are around the world, aged 5 to 17 (2010). This doesn’t even take in to account younger or older slaves or how many there are now over a three year further span – there could be so many more we don’t know exist. Just over half these children are subjected to the worst kind of child slavery. 8.4 million Children are in slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour, forced recruitment for armed forces and illicit activities. It is predicted that 70% of these ‘slaves’ carry out unpaid work for their families.

UNICEF, the world’s leading organisation working for children, who work in over 190 countries for children’s rights, survival, development and protection, and are a leading worldwide charity influential on global authorities and decision makers. In an article published on January 10th 2013, they estimated that around 150 million children aged 5 – 14 in developing countries are subjected to child labour, 16% of all children in this age group. ILO estimates that around 215 million children under 18 work across the world, many full time. Although it is suggested that more boys than girls are involved in child labour, 90% of children involved in domestic labour are girls.

They work full time at an early age, with dangerous workplaces, excessive hours and are subjected to psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Furthermore, they are sometimes forced to work due to the dire circumstances they face, or are pushed by certain individuals. They have limited or no pay, work and live on the streets in terrible conditions, and are unable to escape the poverty cycle as they have no access to an education.

These children are sold across borders and can be used for anything – domestic, laborious, whatever their ‘employers’ or ‘masters’ require. Often, this makes them more vulnerable as they lose contact with their families and are at the mercy of their employers, who, if cruel enough to exploit, manipulate, and deceive a child, may not be the most be the most merciful humans.

According to an interview with the pupils of KHS, in which we asked if they knew any countries it still existed 25% of them said no, while 50% struggled to give an answer.

There are legal charters being made to try and come up with a way to define slavery, and what it is. Is it so important to legalise what we consider to be slavery, or is it important for us to actually go and do something about it, because once a legal document is written, we forget about all the other poor suffering people, children and adults alike, because we don’t consider them to be slaves, because it is up to us to define weather their agony is enough for us to step in. No! It is up to us as people, not a legal document, to define wrong doing, and where we see the need to help, we should help, not try and ponder on whether the anguish is enough for us to step in and try to help. Helping should happen now before it’s too late for us to do anything.

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