Slavery has been abolished around the world. Slavery also still exists in every nation. How is this possible? Although every nation has legislation that prohibits organized slave trade and forced labor, debt bondage, sex trade, child soldiers, and involuntary domestic servitude are modern day methods for entrapping people into slave labor.

The issue of slavery transcends the physical or monetary restraints that lock people into inhumane conditions, and 50% of the victims reside in India. During my research, I learned how issues of poverty, caste, public policy, lack of education, and even religion can tear the very fabric of human dignity and identity. In order to resolve the issue of slave labor, solutions must address these issues for them to be sustainable.

Modern Slavery

There are a few umbrella terms used for this phenomena such as human trafficking, trafficking in persons, modern-day slavery, and modern slavery, however they are all referring to the same “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” (U.S. Dept of State, 7). As there are several categories of modern slavery and each region has its own unique aspects and root causes, this paper is focused specifically on India with its two primary forms of slavery: Forced labor (also known as bonded/debt labor, labor trafficking, or labor slavery) and sex trafficking (also known as sex labor, forced prostitution).

Bonded labor can take place in a variety of locations such as factories, quarries, and can range from several forms of manual labor to domestic servitude. Generally, a person’s labor is exploited through means of coercion and through the giving of a “loan”. Sex trafficking is when an adult or child is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution.

Root Cause Analysis

My independent study focuses on three root causes of modern slavery in India: the first—

poverty corruption and economic incentives, the second—discrimination through the caste system and religious ideologies, and third—corruption and lack of effectiveness in public policy. While researching these three root causes, I also researched and evaluated various solutions to assist in the daunting task of eradicating modern slavery in India.

The multifaceted nature of human trafficking in India required me to research the economic, social, and political aspects of this topic, in addition to the history and evolution of slavery. The history is a critical component, as slavery has been engrained into the fabric of the Indian economy and social structure since ancient times. With such deep roots and intricate causes, there is no straightforward solution.