A Brief Introduction to Modern Slavery


In case you didn’t know, I have been traveling quite a bit lately. I went to Canada, then LA, then Iceland, and I finally arrived at Dresden, Germany about 2 weeks ago. I’m going to be studying music here for one semester and couldn’t be more excited! Unfortunately, what that has meant is that I haven’t had a lot of time to write for my blog.

That will change now though! I’m settled here and now I can get back on track. My goal will be to write one blog entry per week. I will expand to other topics for future posts (AI-produced music, a little bit about my travels, music, culture, religion, etc.) but like I mentioned in the beginning, I will be writing often about modern slavery. One of my goals in creating this blog was to go more in depth into organizations, legislation, national and international movements and the history about modern slavery. Another goal was to share the information I already possess and raise awareness about modern slavery among people who might not even know slavery still exists. This post addresses this latter goal.

So what is modern slavery? (Ideas taken mostly from Kevin Bale’s “Ending Slavery” – Chapter 1)

Since the beginning of human history slavery has been there. In the past, it was easy to identify who was a slave and who wasn’t. Slavery was widely accepted and protected by law. It was practiced by some of our most revered heroes in history. That much most people have clear. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the fact that the legal ownership of people ended did not mean that slavery ended as well. People continued to control people (a.k.a. slaves) by restricting their food and water supply, refusing them education, limiting their movements, and threatening them with violence. De facto slavery never stopped. It never stopped because slavery is not defined by its legal status nor by the business of selling people. Slavery is defined by the action of taking total control of a person and exploiting that person’s labor. Slavery, at its most fundamental, has just three elements: control through violence, economic exploitation, and the loss of free will.

Today, slavery is illegal in every country of the world. Yet, it also exists in every country of the world. People are still brutalized, broken, and submitted to slavery to satisfy someone else’s greed. Their free will is taken away. Their dignity is taken away. Their humanity is taken away. According to The Global Slavery Index, today there are an estimated 45.8 million people enslaved worldwide. These people share with slaves of the past the essentials of violence and exploitation. Today, slavery is found in the kids in Haiti known as “restaveks” who are exploited through domestic labor. It is found in the girls used for sexual exploitation in the brothels of South Asia. It is found in the Lake Volta slaves in Ghana who are forced to work in perilous conditions to barely be able to survive. It is far away from us, yet it is also near us, hiding where we can’t see it.

Yes, slavery still exists today. If you didn’t know it, now you do. But is it really that bad? While slavery generates $150 billion for traffickers each year it is not a key part of any country’s economy, or crucially dependent on race or ethnicity. Today there are tens of thousands of slaves in the US for example, instead of the 4 million that were once enslaved. A true movement of people who want to end slavery exists and it’s growing. We’re slowly moving towards a slave-free world. Yet one single person who is enslaved is THAT bad. And we have more than 45 million of them according to our best estimates (it’s probably more). That’s why we all need to get on board in fighting modern slavery!

In this post I gave a brief introduction to what modern slavery is. In later posts I will be sharing stories about modern slaves, information about abolitionist organizations and more in-depth thoughts and resources about what slavery is. I also want to write about concrete ways in which you and I can make a difference. One way is sharing this post, so if you liked it and learned something please share it with your friends! We need people to be aware of this issue so we can have a greater impact. And if you’re eager to jump in and learn more there are many resources out there. You can start out by checking out the website Free the Slaves. They have a lot of information. You can also ask me and I can share some information and resources with you. And if there’s anything you would like me to write about please let me know in the comments or just contact me directly!

Thank you and I send you all greetings from Germany!

Auf Wiedersehen,

Samuel Gracida

2 thoughts on “A Brief Introduction to Modern Slavery

  1. It is terrible that in the 21st century slavery still exists. I am aware of a visit which took place on a farm, by several authorities working together, police, Council, Salvation Army etc, as I believe it was thought some migrant crop pickers were victims of modern slavery. I was well aware of the concept of modern slavery but what I did not know was organisations like the Salvation Army help out in offering advice and refuge to anyone needing it as a modern slavery victim. I have always been aware of the work of the Salavation Army, but did not know they involve themselves with the modern slavery problems. The more individuals and groups that raise awareness the better. As a member myself of the Methodist Church, I am cognizant of the existence of modern slavery, and hopefully with everyone working together and being vigilant it can be combatted. I live in Cornwall and realise nowhere is necessarily exempt from the problem of modern slavery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Gilly! I did not know about the Salvation Army’s involvement either. Modern slavery permeates our lives to a higher extent that we are comfortable to accept. The UK is definitely in the forefront of taking action to combat modern slavery, including the Modern Slavery Act which requires firms with a turnover of at least 36 million pounds to produce an annual statement showing what they have done to ensure their operations are not tainted by slavery. Unfortunately, things are far from perfect and much work is still needed. Things need to change from within all of us if we hope to eradicate this malaise!


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