Slavery still prospers worldwide

The human trafficking turnover surpasses the turnover of drugs and weapons sales

August 23rd is celebrated in the world as Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. It is not only a remembrance day, but also a day to struggle against slavery. According to Unesco, millions of men, women and children still live in slavery worldwide. Unesco's head, Koichiro Matsuura, described slavery as an “unprecedented tragedy,” which was concealed for many years. "Although abolished and penalized in international instruments, slavery is still practiced in new forms," he said.

The choice of the date is not incidental. On August 23, 1791 a rebellion took place on San Domingo Island (Haiti), which entered history as the first victory of slaves against their oppressors. The mutiny led to a long-lasting, bloody, albeit successful war to liberate Haiti. In 1804 Haiti was proclaimed the first African republic.

Unesco organized numerous events across the world to commemorate. However, the issue of up-to-date slavery is still highly important in global scale – from Latin America to Russia. According to experts' estimates, the human trafficking turnover surpasses the turnover of drugs and weapons trafficking. UN specialists believe women and children make up two-thirds of modern slaves.

Having taken the office, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced the need to introduce tough laws, according to which the land of slave farms will be confiscated. The president started taking active efforts to root out the slavery, which is still practiced in certain remote districts of Brazil. According to official estimates, there is an estimated 25,000 slaves in Brazil. There are numerous stories telling of landless peasants, who would be hired for work, and then they would find themselves in huge debt. Landowners make them pay excessive money for everything – from food and water to tools they use in their work. Armed security guards do not let them escape.

The process to acknowledge slavery and human trafficking in Russia is very slow. Specialists have not studied the forms and scale of slave trade in Russia yet. It is known, however, the world has been inundated with sex slaves of the Slavic origin during the recent 10-15 years.

From Russia and CIS states slaves are trafficked to the west, east and south via the Middle East, St.Petersburg, Kaliningrad, the Caucasus and the Black Sea. A certain part of them flies directly from Moscow – they fall victims of criminal travel, employment agencies and marriage firms.

According to the Israeli police, about 3,000 women are trafficked to Israel's sex industry annually. The average age of female slaves is 22 years old. There were incidents, when the police arrested under-age prostitutes. Ninety percent of sex slaves are trafficked via Egypt. The cost of one sex slave varies between $4,000-10,000 depending on age, appearance, quality of forged documents, etc. According to the report from the US Department of State in 2004, Israel was categorized as the state, the government of which does not take all necessary measures to struggle against the human trade.

Slavery is prospering both in Russia and in former Soviet republics. In addition to prostitutes, homeless and parentless children suffer there too. They become an easy spoil for traffickers of humans and human organs. There are a lot of variants to use the oppressed labor: non-market work, debt servitude, hiring people for their further exploitation. An underpaid work is also to be considered as slavery. It is an open secret, employers often hire illegal migrants: they blackmail them with police, withdraw passports from them and run them into debt.

Captive Russian soldiers and abducted people are often sold to Chechen militants as slaves. Owners keep their slaves chained in basements or barns, make them starve and work beyond strength.

The Chechens use various methods to obtain slaves. They attract provincial townsfolk to farm work. As soon as they start working for slave-owners on their fields, there are practically no chances left for them to return home. Homeless people become slaves rather frequently: nobody will start looking for a person without any social ties. It is cheaper to keep the homeless than cattle. Slave-owners often cooperate with local law-enforcement officers.

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Author`s name Olga Savka