Following on from a recent SOYMB post here about the numbers subject to various kinds of slavery IRIN looks at some of the major forms of modern-day slavery.
(see full article and links here)
NAIROBI, 18 October 2013 (IRIN) - More than two centuries after slavery
was outlawed, 29.8 million people globally continue to be subjected to
new and diverse forms of servitude, a new index ranking 162 countries
According to Gulnara Shahinian,
the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes
and consequences, “contemporary slavery… often occurs in hard to reach
areas of the country or what is perceived as the `private realm’, such
as in the case of domestic servitude…
“In today’s world, slavery takes many different forms: human
trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, servitude… These people are
controlled and forced to work against their will and their dignity and
rights are denied.”
Forced labour: The International Labour Organization (ILO) considers compulsory or forced labour
any “work or service exacted from any person under the threat of a
penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself
Common forms of forced labour can be found in under-regulated or
labour-intensive industries, such as agriculture and fisheries,
construction, manufacturing, domestic work, and the sex industry. A 2013
highlighted some of the brutal conditions under which people are made
to work in the fisheries industry. This category can apply to multiple
forms of slavery, with people being forced to work in a variety of ways,
often including the threat of violence or debt bondage.
ILO estimates that around 21 million people are victims of forced labour.
Debt bondage: This is the most common form of contemporary slavery, according to the London-based NGO Anti-Slavery International,
which says “a person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is
demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked
or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a
In Pakistan, the Asian Development Bank estimates that 1.8 million
people are bonded labourers, primarily working in brick kilns as well as
in agriculture, fisheries and mining. In Brazil’s rural sector, a 2010 UN report
found that many poor workers were enticed to distant areas by
intermediaries, who charged an advance on their salaries, promising high
wages. The workers found themselves paying hefty off loans for the cost
of their transport and food, without any clear indication of how their
debt or wages were being calculated.
Similar practices occur in Bangladesh.
Human trafficking: The UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime
defines human trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation,
transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons”, through the threat or use
of force or other means of coercion “for the purpose of exploitation”.
In Benin, the International Office for Migration estimates that more than 40,000 children are the victims of trafficking.
The Global Slavery Index notes that many of these children are
trafficked to countries within the region, as well as from rural to
urban areas within one country.
Forced or servile marriage: This occurs when an individual does not enter into a marriage with full and free consent. The 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery
considers illegal any practice where “a woman, without the right to
refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration
in money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any other person
or group”. Transfer of a woman by her husband in return for payment, as
well as inheritance of a woman following the death of her husband, is
also outlawed. While the definition only applies to women and girls (who
bear the brunt of forced marriages) there have been calls for it to
cover boys and men too.
Child slavery: Child slavery and exploitation,
including the use of children in armed conflict, is another common form
of contemporary slavery. The Worst Forms of Child Labour,
defined by ILO include the sale and trafficking of children, compulsory
labour, serfdom, and the compulsory use of children in armed conflict.
In Haiti, children from rural households are sent to urban areas to work
as domestic house helps for wealthier families and can then be
exploited. Around 1 in 10 children in Haiti are exploited, according to
the Global Slavery Index.
While child slavery remains a significant problem, the number in child
labour around the world reduced to 168 million in 2012 from 246 million
in 2000, according to ILO.
Chattel slavery: A situation where a person or group of
people is considered the property of a slave-owner, and can be traded,
is the least common form of slavery today. Slave-owners in these
situations control victims and their descendants, and therefore
individuals are often born enslaved.
Although slavery was finally criminalized in Mauritania in 2007,
leading to the freeing of many people, few slave-owners have been
convicted of the practice, and chattel slavery remains a serious
problem. The Global Slavery Index estimates there are 140,000-160,000
slaves in Mauritania.