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Covid19 Featured Global

How modern slavery is affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

Hereditary slaves, sound like a thing of the distant past, right? Well, some of the children in Mauritania are born slaves in their mother’s wombs. Slavery has never left our society, it still does exist in society as ‘Modern Slavery’.

The novel coronavirus has trembled everyone’s life, how is it affecting the lives of people who are living it as slaves? What are their challenges and how is it different from most of us?

What is modern slavery?

Living a free life is a basic human right, but melancholy is, not everyone gets it. Modern slavery is slaving people for personal and commercial profit. The Walks Free Foundation, Australia defines slavery as “situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception”. According to the Anti-Slavery Organisation, today approximately

  • 40 million people are in the shackles of poverty.
  • One-fourth of these are children
  • 71% are women

The above data reveals a truth that cannot be seen very easily, because it flies on the wall, off records. Slaves are everywhere, and most of the time they are quite hard to recognize. They look to us like a normal labourer working on farms or workers in the factory, but some of them might be facing violence every next day.

They might be living in an acute shortage of food; some of them would be living a scalable life defined by the owner. Their passports might have been taken away from them and are living in fear of deportation. The list goes on and on. Modern slavery exists in a number of forms today.

Forms of modern slavery

Slavery in the modern day has taken many forms:

  • Human Trafficking: most the trafficked humans are trafficked to be used as slaves in big farms and factories under rich owners.
  • Forced labour: Labour are not given enough money per their work, they have to do extra time and some of the time have to face violence from the owner.
  • Slavery of children: one out of every four people stuck in modern slavery is a child. Children are trafficked or children of poverty-stricken people are pushed to be slaves
  • Child Marriage: Children are married at a very young age, without their will and are not allowed to leave the house; are also a kind of slave in which the owner is the wedded husband who in maximum cases is way younger than the girl.
  • Deported Slaves: Foreigners visiting a country sometimes face such problems. Their passport is taken and they are forced to work as slaves under life-threatening conditions.
  • Debt-bondage Labours: Poor farmers or labourers in high debt sometimes end up becoming slaves of the moneylenders; when are not able to pay back. This usually happens because the landlord gives money at a very high rate of interest.

Besides them, there are various other forms of slavery that exist, under the table.

Despite being illegal, how slavery has thrived?: The Problem

To understand better how despite being unlawful in every government, slavery still has strong roots? Let’s see what happens to people who risk their lives to escape it?

Duc Kien Nguyen, 40 years Vietnamese was trapped in modern slavery by a drug-dealing gang in August of 2017. In 2018 the man risked his life to escape and reached out to the authorities; only to be treated as a criminal and was issued a deportation notice by the authority.

Numbers of Chinese women, most of whom were the victims of human trafficking were kept in a detention camp, under the threat of deportation, to the United Kingdom. Many of these women are not facilitated with medical facilities even if they are in dire need of it.

A Polish man was held captive in the detention camp unlawfully. The man claimed to be a victim of human trafficking, despite that he was kept in the detention camp under the threat of deportation. But after the hearing, the court fined Home Office £25,000.

The above cases show how the victims, when trying to seek help from authority are treated. These people risk their lives to escape but in the end, they end up being caught in another life-threatening state, deportation.

These cases are not always true, and in maximum cases, the authority would help the survivor, but such cases fill the victims with fear, and instead of seeking help, they stay as slaves for the rest of their lives.

Problems caused due to the pandemic

The coronavirus-triggered pandemic is like a nightmare to almost everyone. But there is no denying that it would affect the most vulnerable the most. The victims of modern slavery who rarely have the choice to have any medical attention are one of the most vulnerable to the virus.

Some labours are kept at the owner’s house, and are not allowed to meet anyone, not even their families; So, so as not to get infected and transmit the virus to their owner. Their families face tremendous hardship in earning a one-time meal for themselves.

Even if some held captive spot symptoms of coronavirus, cannot speak up out of fear of being exposed to the authorities and then detention and deportation. Moreover, these victims are forced to live in a tiny, untidy room which is shared by many others. Under this condition even if one got infected then it could be infected everyone else living with them

In the pandemic, the lockdowns have exposed the victims to more violence, making them more vulnerable than ever before. The pandemic is proving to be the worst for them.

The solutions that could eradicate slavery from the world are by making very strict rules against slavery; more often raids at the factories and farms which are speculated to be keeping slaves. Spreading awareness amongst people about slavery and empowering them. So, slaves themselves come in front to seek help, and they get it.