Monday, July 11, 2011

Slavery is still a part of today's economy

The practice of human trafficking has given us more slavery today than at any time in the history of the world. The victims of trafficking are often given a general proposition to leave their home, only to find the terms of the deal changed once they arrive to the new country. The people trafficked then have to work off any agreement made with their controllers, often through sex trade or domestic work.

From the Inter Press Service, writer Simba Russeau gives us more details on this growing problem.

"For many, the simplicity of the transaction when dealing with illegal recruiters is more attractive," Pardis Mahdavi, author of ‘Gridlock: Labour, Migration and Human Trafficking’ told IPS. "If governments could put into place a system that allows the legal channels for migration to be easier, it could limit the number of workers migrating under informal middlemen."

Slavery, which is a system where people are treated as property and forced to work, is very much a part of today’s global economy. It rivals and in some regions eclipses the international drug trade.

There are nearly 27 million slaves worldwide, generating 1.3 billion dollars in annual profits, according to conservative estimates. Some estimates show a world slave population as high as 200 million, with the majority held under debt bondage.

Considered a new form of slavery, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. The United Nations (UN) estimates that nearly three million people are trafficked annually.

"Global human trafficking is fueled by the insatiable demand for unmediated access to other human beings - to their labour, their personhood, to all that makes each of us unique, and all of us generic," Eileen Scully, author of ‘Pre-Cold War Traffic in Sex Labor’ told IPS.

"The demand in EU countries for ‘exotic women’, for example, is not merely a demand for non-local women, or for women from cultures that supposedly do not stigmatise prostitution. This demand is, rather, for ‘trafficked women’ and ‘trafficked children’, meaning individuals who have been manoeuvered into untenable, inescapable situations, where having once said yes to the general proposition, they are unable to say no to the particulars when later presented."

The new International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention on Domestic Workers adopted in June aims to ensure that women - who constitute nearly 50 percent of the global migrant population – are treated as human beings.

"When male migrant workers come to work in construction or other service and industry sectors in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, they are protected under the labour law. Even if they don’t have full rights their work is recognised as work under the law, which is not the case for domestic workers (in the Arab region)," Simel Esim, gender specialist at the ILO's Regional Office for the Arab States told IPS.

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