Persistent plague of modern-day slavery
Long ago, a system of power and wealth gave rise to an interconnected network. Within this network, the most distressing and malevolent emotions such as cruelty, brutality, violence, torture, coercion, humiliation, anguish, and insult seemed to perpetually thrive. This system enslaved the weak and impoverished, subjecting them to the authority of the mighty and affluent. During that era, certain individuals assumed the title of “masters,” occupying prestigious positions and enslaving their fellow human beings, forcing them to endure the haunting and oppressive sound of chains.
And even in the present day, this distressing series persists. Inequality, an age-old and deeply troubling manifestation of exploitation, akin to modern-day slavery, has ensnared a staggering number of individuals across the globe.
Even in our contemporary world, humanity still experiences various forms of enslavement and bondage. In the present age, an alarming reality confronts us: an estimated 40 to 50 million individuals worldwide are trapped in the harrowing grip of modern-day slavery. This stupefying figure represents an unprecedented high, surpassing any recorded numbers from previous eras. The insidious global slave trade persists unabated, casting a dark shadow over our collective humanity.
The scourge of slavery manifests in various distressing forms, each more abhorrent than the last. Women are ruthlessly coerced into a life of prostitution, while factory workers and men toil on farms and in the fishing industry, trapped in deplorable conditions. Regrettably, the bounds of modern slavery extend even further, encompassing the unimaginable trade of human organs, where individuals become commodities to be bought and sold. Additionally, innocent children are subjected to heart-wrenching realities, forced into begging on the streets, or pushed into premature and involuntary marriages. These distressing manifestations of modern slavery serve as a painful reminder of the ongoing battles we must fight to uphold human dignity and eradicate such abhorrent practises.
In the Asian region, particularly in Pakistan and India, a distressing reality unfolds where entire families find themselves ensnared in the clutches of modern-day slavery. Forced into laborious work in construction, agricultural fields, brick kilns, and garment factories, they face a life of servitude. Although the outright sale of human beings may not be prevalent in today’s era, the insidious practise of debt bondage has taken root in numerous countries worldwide, notably in South Asia.
In this disheartening practise, the creditor takes it upon themselves to imprison not only the debtor but their entire family, trapping them in an interminable cycle of debt that spans generations. Through coerced labour, the defaulter’s descendants are compelled to toil tirelessly in order to repay this ever-mounting burden. Meanwhile, the disturbing phenomenon of human trafficking continues to afflict the region, with women and children falling victim to enslavement and being subjected to degrading work within brothels.
According to a recent report, North Korea, Eritrea, and Mauritania have the highest prevalence rates of modern slavery, with 104, 90.3, and 32 people per 1,000 population, respectively. Joining them in the list of the top 10 countries are Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. The report highlights that these countries exhibit similar political, social, and economic characteristics, including inadequate safeguards for civil liberties and human rights. These findings shed light on the urgent need for enhanced efforts to address and combat modern slavery in these regions, while also emphasising the importance of promoting and protecting fundamental rights and freedoms worldwide.
According to a report released by the Walk Free Foundation, a rights group dedicated to combating modern slavery, six countries within the Group of 20 (G20) have the highest numbers of individuals living in modern slavery, encompassing both forced labor and forced marriage. Topping the list is India, with an estimated 11 million people affected, followed by China with 5.8 million, Russia with 1.9 million, Indonesia with 1.8 million, Turkey with 1.3 million, and the United States with 1.1 million individuals impacted by this grave issue. These findings shed light on the alarming prevalence of modern slavery within some of the world’s most significant economies and underscore the urgent need for comprehensive action to combat this egregious violation of human rights.
The scourge of modern-day slavery has transformed into a sprawling industry worth billions of dollars annually. This stark reality highlights the urgent need to confront and eradicate these systemic injustices, ensuring the liberation and empowerment of those entrapped in these harrowing circumstances.
The issue of modern slavery has reached such alarming proportions that mere words of empathy alone cannot suffice to tackle it. It is a collective responsibility that falls upon each and every one of us, both individually and as a society. Across the globe, nations are making concerted efforts to combat this menace through international agreements and domestic policies. However, further action is required at the governmental level to effectively combat forced labour, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation.
Nouman Sharif, is an experienced digital journalist with 16+ years in the newsroom, covering current affairs, socio-economic issues, and public interest topics. He is currently serving as Deputy Web Editor at Samaa Tv. Connect with Nouman at [email protected]