What is Modern Day Slavery?
Chained quarry laborers freed after years forced to work with chained legs at Arakere, near Hangarahalli in Mandya district. 65 other laborers and their children worked for 10+ years and these men were chained as the stone quarry owners were afraid they would flee before clearing their loans.
Modern Day Slavery
Some people say that slavery has been abolished around the world...and technically speaking they are correct in that there are no countries that have legalized, organized slave trades. However, debt bondage, sex trade, child soldiers, and involuntary domestic servitude are modern day methods for entrapping people into slave labor. I researched several different sites and have included excerpts from various sites that do a very good job at describing this situation.
US State Dept Trafficking In Persons Report - June 2013
The US Department puts out a report that addresses this issue every year. I have taken some excerpts from this report and put them here as it provides practical information helpful to understand this issue.
What Is Trafficking In Persons?
“Trafficking in persons” and “human trafficking” have been used as umbrella terms for the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
What are the types of Modern Day Slavery
When an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution—or maintained in prostitution through one of these means after initially consenting—that person is a victim of trafficking.
Child Sex Trafficking
When a child (under 18 years of age) is induced to perform a commercial sex act, proving force, fraud, or coercion against their pimp is not necessary for the offense to be characterized as human trafficking.
Forced labor, sometimes also referred to as labor trafficking, encompasses the range of activities—recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining—involved when a person uses force or physical threats, psychological coercion, abuse of the legal process, deception, or other coercive means to compel someone to work. Once a person’s labor is exploited by such means, the person’s previous consent or effort to obtain employment with the trafficker becomes irrelevant.
Bonded Labor Or Debt Bondage
One form of coercion is the use of a bond or debt.
Forced Child Labor
Although chi ldren may legally engage in certain forms of work, forms of slavery or slavery-like practices continue to exist as manifestations of human trafficking, despite legal prohibitions and widespread condemnation.
Involuntary Domestic Servitude
Involuntary domestic servitude is a form of human trafficking found in unique circumstances—informal work in a private residence—these circumstances create unique vulnerabilities for victims.
Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers
Child soldiering is a manifestation of human trafficking when it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children—through force, fraud, or coercion—by armed forces as combatants or other forms of labor. Some child soldiers are also sexually exploited by armed groups. Perpetrators may be government armed forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups.
View the entire report at:
Facts & Data
Many organizations have published the facts and data around modern day slavery. I have referenced several of these sites in the "Organizations" page and would encourage people to read through several of them to get a sense as to the magnitude of the issue.
A really nice summary of modern day slavery statistics is located on the Abolition Media site and is pictured below:
How are they freed?
We learned a great deal about the practical long-term processes that are helping the issue of debt bondage, which is one key area of modern day slave labor.
5 step process:
There is a very organized process that groups such as Jeevika do to free people from bonded labor. The process includes the following:
Tedious and painstaking effort is being made by thousands of volunteers in organizations such as Jeevika who comb through villages searching for people in bonded labor situations. Many of these were in this situation themselves or had family members there so they know what to look for. One leader described to us how they find many bonded laborers by looking in the animal shelters and if they see a plate and cup in the rafters, there is likely a bonded laborer working there.
Much effort is made to provide awareness to people in high risk communities. Training is done on individual rights and how exploitation and coersion traps people into unlawful situations. These awareness activities can be in many different forms, such as:
- formal workshops, training, group meetings
- music/dance/cultural events hosted during key festivals when laborers may leave their work for a day
- individual conversations from others who have been in their same situation
There is a very formal process in working with the legal authorities to get the official release certificates and work orders for the people to be officially released from their debt bondage situations. Many times the government officials are working with the land or factory owners, so the procedures can be easily shut down at the local levels. When this happens the process moves up the chain until justice is given. Sometimes this has required creating unions and having strikes/protests/sit-ins. Sometimes the intervention of the media helps as well. There have been several cases where the officials who did not respond properly were later given reprimands.
A critical, yet often neglected part of the process is fixing the root cause so that the individual does not fall victim to the same circumstance again. There are government programs for rehabilitation where a fixed income or lump sum amount is given to the released laborer to restart their lives. Giving Rs20k is part of one such program and the funds are used directly to buy a cow, sheep, small shop, cart, etc. such that the individual can make a new independent living free from the landowners.
Another key component to this is creating a Sustained Community Support system. This includes things such as the women self-help groups (who together create a savings account that can be used to loan to people in need and thus break the dependency on the land or factory owners).
This step unfortunately is the least successful. Often the land owners and factory owners are very powerful and influential people and the success rate of prosecution is not high.