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Slavery in the 21st century

For many, the concept of slavery is nothing but a word to be found in history textbooks. Though for others, slavery is an honest definition of their everyday life. Despite the abolishment of slavery, it is estimated that 1 in every 200 people around the world, is forced into modern slavery.

What is modern slavery?

Even though there is still no common or international definition for modern slavery, the Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the condition of being forced by threats or violence to work for little or no pay, and of having no power to control what work you do or where you do it”.However, many forms of modern slavery don’t exactly fit under this definition.

Moreover, according to the Global Slavery Index 2017, it is estimated that 40 million people from all around the globe are trapped in modern slavery with women making up 71% of the entire modern enslaved’ population. Also, 10 million of the victims are children. This means that 1 of every 4 slaves is a child.

Furthermore, this disgusting line of business is considered very profiting. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), modern slavery is worth around $150 billion a year.

Forms of modern slavery

Modern slavery can exist in many forms, such as:

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the most known forms of modern slavery. According to the U.N. Trafficking Protocol, human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, through the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for exploitation.”

Forced labor

Forced labor is any kind of work or service that people are forced to do against their will. Usually, these people are under the threat of physical punishment and are paid little to nothing for their hard work.

Debt bondage or bonded labor

This form is the world’s most widespread form of slavery. Since people trapped in poverty borrow money, they end up forced to work so they’ll be able to pay off their debt. However, employers prey on their vulnerable situation. Thus, they lose control over both their employment conditions and the amount of debt they owe.

Descent–based slavery

This form is the most traditional form of slavery.  People are considered property by their owners. Therefore, their “slave” status is passed down the maternal line and to the next generation.

Slavery of children

Children’s slavery can take place in many ways. Moreover, adults exploiting children’s innocence, and vulnerability is nothing new.  Therefore, this kind takes the form of child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage, and child domestic slavery.

Forced and early marriage

Being in a marriage and not having the ability to leave is a form of slavery. Wives are forced to fulfill their “duties” to their husbands without even consenting to this union. They are raped, abused, and forced to work under the threat of punishment. Therefore, most child or forced marriages are considered forms of slavery.

Sex Trafficking

Women and girls are mostly the victims of this kind of slavery since they account for 99% of sex trafficking victims. They are forced into commercial sexual exploitation while being violated in many horrible and unimaginable ways.

Domestic Servitude

Domestic workers, especially migrants, are particularly vulnerable to many kinds of modern slavery. Since they work out of sight in private homes, employers exploit this situation and force them to work in very harsh conditions. However, Domestic Servitude truly takes the form of slavery when they’re not free to leave and aren’t paid, or are underpaid.

Employers confiscate their passports and isolate them in an abusive environment.

Child Soldiers or forced requirement

Reports proved that governments also take part in modern slavery. Forcing people and children to join armed conflicts without paying them while living in bad conditions,s is a form of modern slavery.

Where does modern slavery take place?

Whether intentionally or not, every country in the world is guilty of harboring enslaved people. Even first world countries such as the USA, UK, or France. However, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Russia alone comprise 60% of all the people living in modern slavery.

Even though humanity fought hard to abolish slavery. Many forms of it still exist to this day. Humans are being exploited and violated by their fellow humans in order to satisfy their bottomless greed. However, hope is still not lost. There are many NGOs working for this cause and achieving small victories every day. So if you notice the signs, take action and inform the authorities.

For more Check


(2020). Retrieved 10 May 2020, from

Hodal, K. (2020). One in 200 people is a slave. Why?. Retrieved 10 May 2020, from

Mark Tutton, C. (2020). What is modern slavery?. Retrieved 10 May 2020, from

What does modern slavery look like?. (2016). Retrieved 10 May 2020, from

What is modern slavery? – Anti-Slavery International. (2020). Retrieved 10 May 2020, from