The abolition of slavery world wide is far from complete. Despite international and domestic laws against the practice of slavery, there are now some twenty-seven million people living as slaves. More than nine of the twenty-seven million are children. Every year vast numbers of human beings are trafficked both internationally and within national borders. In fact it is now cheaper to purchase a slave than it has ever been at any point in history.
Human trafficking has become a multi-billion dollar business and is the third largest generator of illegal revenue after drugs and illegal arms dealing. The FBI estimates that 9.5 billion is generated by the slave trade every year. The International Labor Office stated in a report entitled "Global Alliance Against Forced Labor" claimed the figure is closer to 32 billion. According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) 800,000 people are trafficked each year across international borders. Approximately 17,500 new victims are trafficked across US borders and in addition, 30,000 more human beings are trafficked through the USA on their way to international destinations. Men, women and children in particular in every country are being defrauded, manipulated or simply kidnapped and sold into slavery, even in the wealthiest nations.
In impoverished nations debt slavery has become a cultural epidemic. Many people are forced to work off debts their whole lives. Debts which can never be repaid due to ever increasing interest rates and additional charges imposed. Some are even forced to give their children to the lender to work off their debts. Others in impoverished areas sometimes even resort to selling their children, due to the desperation of their economic situation. Often young women and children, of both sexes, seeking a better life are taken in by people who promise work or scholarships. Instead of paid work or schooling, the victims arrive, usually in foreign countries, to find they are slaves, the majority of whom will be forced to work in the sex industry.
Like all multi-billion dollar criminal enterprises, slavery thrives in part due to the fact that there are always government officials willing to turn a blind eye or even sanction slavery for the right pay off. Forms of government sanctioned slavery are even endorsed in major western countries like the USA. The Guest Worker Program has repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses including fraud and human trafficking. Congressman Charles Rangel stated the Guest Worker Program was, “the closest thing I have ever seen to slavery.” The reality is if something looks like slavery and smells like slavery it is slavery.
Allegations of human trafficking and pederasty, in connection with US government officials, were uncovered by former Senator John DeCamp during his investigation into the Franklin Banking Scandal. Much of what he uncovered was recored in his book The Franklin Cover-up: Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska. A documentary film called Conspiracy of Silence also discloses much of the same information. This documentary, which was scheduled to be aired on the Discovery channel in May of 1994, was canceled due to congressional pressure on the cable network. Sex slavery, including pederasty, goes on all over the world and not just in Thailand, South America and other places infamous for it.
When slavery is exposed in the mainstream media coverage, it usually revolves around the sex industry. Although sex slavery is a pervasive and truly abominable practice, it must not be overlooked that there are many slaves who do all sorts of labor. Slaves and forced child labor are responsible in part or in full for the manufacturing of many common items including: clothing, toys, household items, jewelry, and even the food we eat to name a few.
The people who benefit the most from slavery and child labor are often the large multinational corporations; the chocolate industry is a classic example of this. Cocoa buyers purchase crops from isolated farmers using slave labor for well below market value. This ensures that the impoverished farmers will continue to be unable to hire workers and so the practice of slave labor continues. This practice also deflates the cost of cocoa on the world market and farmers who pay their labor can not compete. The major food corporations who own the biggest chocolate companies make huge profits internationally, meanwhile the men, women and children of the Cote d'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) and neighboring nations suffer. The “Harkin-Engel" Protocol, which was aimed only at child slavery and endorsed by the Cote d'Ivoire government, has done little good and does not even address the adults being enslaved.
The global economic condition continues to deteriorate as wars, both international and civil, rage all over the planet. Pervasive war and poverty have created an almost endless supply of victims for the world slave trade. Today abolitionists are needed more than ever before. The victims of slavery need more than liberation; they need help repairing devastated lives once they have been freed.