Modern day slavery is practiced by some institutions that continue to exist today, creating an estimated number of slaves of around 2 million slaves around the world. Generally, it is believed to be a by-product of poverty, as it is seen to be common in countries that lack economic freedom, education and rule of law and have poor societal structure, fostering an environment that allows and propagates slavery. Here are shocking examples of modern day slavery:
1. Use of Child Soldiers in Armed Conflicts
With the coming of light weapons, children have also become the go-to soldiers for some dishonorable armies with nothing to lose. In private armies, civil wars and terrorist cells around the world, you would see thousands of underage soldiers who are being forced to bear arms, as they are easier to intimidate and would easily take orders than adults. Also, they are less aware of their rights and sometimes know nothing else but violence, making them vulnerable to be kept in slave conditions.
These children would be conditioned for war that killing will become a routine in their everyday life, like drinking, eating and sleeping. With malleable minds, they are brainwashed and are killing on command, which means that they are living in constant danger. Generally, they come from war-ravaged villages, often being the only survivors after an attack and taken in by the assailants as well as forced into slavery. Some armies, like that of the Burmese military regime, force children to perform slave labor in the front lines, as well as in construction and transport.
2. Trapped Immigrants by Ruthless Employers in the UK
Reports say that cases of exploitation of migrant workers by unscrupulous employers in the UK are increasing. This form of modern day slavery has been driven by the increasing demand for cheap services and the appeal of the country’s economy to people who are unable to find work in their home countries. The cases of exploitation witnessed in industries, such as fishery, agriculture, construction and hospitality, are described as extremely shocking that some people point the need to get society engaged to understand the situation. Nevertheless, the government has taken action to combat the problem, such as launching a crackdown on organizations that offer work to illegal workers, particularly migrants from Middle East and Africa who are camping in morally degrading conditions in Calais while trying to cross to the UK. At the same time, there is also an equally similar problem of employment abuse of EU nationals, though it attracts less attention, particularly involving those from eastern Europe who are fully entitled to work in the UK.
3. Forcing Children to Work in Cannabis Farms in Scotland
Children from countries, like Vietnam and China, are being trafficked into other countries and forced to work in indoor cannabis farms, many of which are located in Scotland. Usually, these places are being run by organized criminal organizations inside gutted buildings with doors locked at all times and windows blacked out. An estimated number of 300 children as young as 13 years old are kept inside these buildings 24 hours a day, where they have to tend to cannabis plants and deprived any access to natural light, only knowing the day by the heat lamps inside and exposed to toxic chemicals that are used in the process of cultivation. While at it, they face extortion, intimidation and violence on a daily basis, often manipulated by gang members that they will gain their freedom after they have worked off the debts incurred by their families from overseas money lenders. While the debts are sometimes real, the ability to pay them off is not.
What’s worse, the justice system often fails these victims. While the government is increasingly cracking down on these farms, the victims are not always immediately helped with the raids, but rather charged with cannabis cultivation and then sentenced to jail time. As for those who do not go to prison, they are put into foster care. While this is good, it is not always the case as the gang members who forced them into slavery would continue to harass and scare most of them into returning to the farms.
4. Slavery of Thais in El Monte, California
About 2 decades ago, there was a loud wake-up call for the US that came screaming out of an indistinct building in El Monte, California and saying slavery in the country is not over. In the morning of August 2, 1995, federal and state agents raided the building and found 72 Thai men and women detained in a sweatshop, boarded up windows and confined behind barbed wire, with guards keeping watch 24 hours a day. These victims were said to be locked up for up to 7 years, forbidden to go outside or even talk to people beyond their units. Basically, they were forced to work, sewing garments for about 18 hours a day in cramped spaces and then slept only a few hours on bedrolls in cramped rooms. They would only get fresh air when the garage door was opened to push out piles of clothes that were destined for major department stores across the country.
5. Harvesting of Child Organs in Third World Countries
Subsidizing on the high demand for organ transplants, organized criminal groups have taken to human trafficking, particularly children, to sell organs on the black market. In some cases, children were abducted from Somalia to be smuggled into the UK. Aside from Somalia, Haiti also became a hotbed of exploitation in the wake of the devastating earthquake in 2010, which left thousands of children orphaned. Since then, this form of slavery has been one of the biggest issues faced by welfare and aid workers as they struggle to reunite these children with their distant relatives and bring them into safe homes.
Slavery becomes an attractive investment when masters only need to pay for enforcement and sustenance. This means that when the cost of enforcement and sustenance exceeds the wage rate, slavery would no longer be profitable and masters would simply release their slaves. By making environments less attractive for slavery, practices—such as those mentioned above—will be discouraged.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.