Friday, March 02, 2007

Modern slave trade

Did you know there are 27 million slave in our world today? 80% are female and 50% are children according to the U.S. Department of State's "2005 Trafficking in Persons Report." Slavery exists today in countries all over the planet, including the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, up to 17,500 new victims are trafficked across our borders each year. It's tempting to want to dismiss these numbers or diminish their importance. You might even see people refer to "slave-like conditions" because so many people want to believe that slavery was abolished for good some 200 years ago.

Global poverty is one of the major contributors to the problem as it increases the number of victims a slave trader has to choose from. And thus, slaves become more easier expendable as the pool is so large. You and I may even be contributing to the problem as we go about our lives. Kevin Bales, a pioneer in the fight against modern slavery notes, "Slaves in Pakistan may have made the shoes you are wearing and the carpet you stand on. Slaves in the Caribbean may have put sugar in your kitchen and toys in the hands of your children. In India they may have sewn the shirt on your back and polished the ring on your finger."

How are we to respond to the rise of modern slavery? What should the church be doing to mobilize its members into action? Just as evangelicals such as William Wilberforce and Elizabeth Heyrick rose up to fight slavery in the 18th & 19th centuries, so too we ought to make known the plight of these slaves and fight for their freedom!

1 comment:

tw said...

It's quite common where I am living now for Arab men from another Arab country to leave their families to come to do low wage, low prestige manual labor for a higher salary than they could earn in their home country. Also many young ladies come from Sri Lanka and the Phillipines to serve as nannies and housemaids to the wealthy. Companies that arrange transport and positions of employment often charge high fees that these workers are then expected to pay back from their wages and hold onto their passports until they do... Of course, not all these types of workers are mistreated like this, but I think it's quite prevalent. Much of the development that is happening in Dubai is happening on the back of pseudo-slave labor as well. Check out the Jan 2007 issue of National Geographic on Dubai.