Did you know that December 2 is the observance of The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery? Probably not. There are many days of observance or acknowledgment throughout each month that remain in obscurity most likely because there is no holiday attached to it. And while all are well intended, some feel more so than others. Dec 2 is set aside to highlight the importance of eradicating contemporary forms of slavery such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labor, forced marriage, and pressurized recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
According to the UN, an estimated 40.3 million people are caught in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage. I’m startled when I read these numbers but even more so when I see there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world, and that 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children. According to the UN, more than 150 million children worldwide are subject to child labor, accounting for almost one in ten children globally.
This isn’t a time to rabbit hole into some conspiracy theory about pizza parlors created to divide us politically. This is a day to truly acknowledge that contemporary slavery is a global issue that takes on many forms, some occurring right before our eyes. Consider that out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector like domestic work, construction, or agriculture, 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million in forced labor imposed by state authorities. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labor accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors. So, the indentured servant selling flowers on the street corner can look exactly like the person voluntarily working for a wage.
During this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, many people take an opportunity to share their views in writings through poetry, essays, interviews, feature articles, stories, and other kinds of published material. For our small part, we choose to take this opportunity to use this venue to help raise consciousness through acknowledgment and to provide some links to more information regarding this global crisis.