Skip to main content

  When Steve McQueen gave his acceptance speech last month for his Oscar winning film “12 Years A Slave,” he mentioned that there is currently 21 million people living in slavery today. That's over five times the number of slaves in America at the start of the Civil War.

  Somehow that very important point was generally overlooked.

   The abduction and selling of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls has stirred global outrage. That includes Michelle Obama.
 “This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education — grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls.”
The group that kidnapped those girls were terrorists, but once again the more important point has been overlooked.
     People are rightly outraged that these hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped and sold into slavery, but for some reason few have worked up outrage at the fact that this is the 21st Century and there are more slaves in the world than ever before.
   How can we as a species allow this to continue?

     Most people think of slavery as something in the distant past. In fact, there are more slaves today than at any time in human history.

 Kevin Bales, lead research on "The Global Slavery Index," published by the Walk Free Foundation, says despite anti-slavery laws in almost all the world's countries, 29.8 million people are trapped today in debt bondage, slave labor, sex trafficking, forced labor or domestic servitude.
   This compares, according to an article in The Manchester Guardian, with 12.5 million human beings sent as slaves across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas and the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  Nigeria has the largest number of slaves in Africa. Of a population of 168 million, at least 701,032 are believed to be slaves.
"Women and girls [are taken] for domestic servitude and sex trafficking, and boys for forced labour in street vending, domestic service, mining, stone quarrying, agriculture, and begging," TIP said.
 According to the Global Slavery Index, Mauritania ranks first in the world in slavery.
   Out of the population of 3.8 million, between 140,000 and 160,000 Mauritanians are enslaved. The nation still suffers from "slave castes", and only outlawed slavery in 2007.
  Around 56% of all slaves come from Asia. India has far and away the most slaves in the world at over 9 million.
   However, the most concentrated area of slavery in the world is eastern and central Europe, at 4.2 per 1,000, versus 4.0 in Africa.

  Slavery is the second-most profitable underground business in the world, after illegal drugs, pulling in $39 Billion annually,  according to Interpol.
   Historically slaves cost around $40,000 in today's dollars. Today a slave can be purchased for an average of $90, a product of the massive increase in global population over the past century.

  Sex slaves, while most well-known, are only 22% of the world's slaves.
Most of the world's slaves are much like this.

10:51 AM PT:
 Stephanie Wilson was walking out of a ritzy Saks store in New York a few years ago with a brand-new, overpriced handbag, when she noticed a handwritten note in the bottom of the bag.
 The note, signed by Tohnain Emmanuel Njong, said: "We are ill-treated and work like slaves for 13 hours every day producing these bags in bulk in the prison factory."
   A passport-sized photo of a man in an orange jacket was also enclosed.
"I read the letter and I just shook," Ms Wilson told DNAinfo.
 This was no urban legend. The prison slave who wrote that letter was real. Fortunately he is no longer in prison.

Originally posted to gjohnsit on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by WE NEVER FORGET and In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site