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Next time at happy hour when you hear somebody say that the boss has cracked down the whip, worked them like slaves and they can't wait to cut loose, you might want to gently correct their hyperbole by telling them that:

Estimates range that there are from 12 to 27 million actual chattel slaves in the world. Right this modern moment a possible 27 million people are owned as property and are expected to perform labor and services for free. Estimates range from a low of 700,000 to a high of four million people in 2001 that were sold as slaves, according to the http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa061202a.htm">u.s. State Department. Eighty percent of them were children and women, as is the case each year. There are possibly two million slaves sold into the sex trade alone each year.

In Persian Gulf States', child slaves include two-year-old boys (according to the US ) being strapped onto camels and forced to ride them while they race. Listen to what the Ansar Burney Foundation has to say:

"These children, some as young as 3 years old, are forced to work up to 18 hours a day in the scorching heat of the deserts. Those unable to stay awake for the hours of grueling work are given a "karba" (electric shock), while those who decide to disobey orders or play games are beaten and tortured. Stories of cruelty inflicted on many of the children rescued by Ansar Burney Trust involved them being tied up in chains in the desert heat, beaten with metal rods and leather whips, cut with blades and being raped by their "owners"."

"They are deliberately underfed and malnourished to keep their weight down and allow the camel on which they ride to run faster. Some are fed two to three biscuits a day with water, while others are forced to eat dirty and unhygienic food with seawater; in the hope that an upset stomach will stop the child from feeling hungry. If that does not bring their weight down, they are forced to wear metal helmets to make them bleed and reduce weight that way."

Meanwhile, over In southeast Asia little girls are sold as young as five to work as child prostitutes to fulfill the pleasures of pedophiles. Then again, right here in the United States, former secretary of state Colin Powell reported that some 50,000 women and children sex objects are trafficked annually into the United States. "Here and abroad," said Powell, "the victims of trafficking toil under inhuman conditions -- in brothels, sweatshops, fields and even in private homes." Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright has called human trafficking "the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world."

From West and Central Africa alone, UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children are sold as slaves each year to work as maids, harvesters and prostitutes. Child slaves are said to pick cocoa beans so westerners can have cheap chocolate. Meanwhile, in India each year an estimated 200,000 and 300,000 children are kidnaped from their villages, some as young as five, and then forced to weave cheap carpets for ten to fourteen hours a day before clean up and set-up for the next day. According to an account from International Labor Rights and Education Fund, they saw children slaves existing off flat bread, onions, salt and questionable water. The children slaves either slept on the damp floors near their looms or slept in sheds.

Then there is the matter of debt bondage, or bonded labor. When Jesus originally gave the Lord's Prayer, he said, "forgive us our debts as we forgive others." Jesus didn't say "trespasses." If you had debts when you died and your assets didn't cover them then it was your kids' labor that did. In Jesus' time, people were so poor that they literally did pray for their daily bread and that it didn't cost them so much that their grandchildren wouldn't have to work to pay for it.

Even now, in extremely impoverished areas, parents offer themselves or their children as collateral on a loan. Of course, once you're in, there's no getting out because it's like owing your life to Tony Soprano. Family debts can last for generations with the bonded servants giving birth to bonded servants who will give birth to bonded servants to pay for a debt someone made a couple hundred years earlier. Understand. You must also pay the debts incurred for keeping you such as food, rent and clothing.

So next time you hear somebody spouting hyperbole about having worked like a slave, point them in the direction of any of the following links:

Anti-slavery Society
Andar Burney Foundation

BBB Report on Modern Slavery
Free the Slaves
International Justice Mission
Modern Slavery Info
Slavery in America
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B. 1952, GA, USA. D. To Be Determined. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, lover, confidant and friend of many from bikers to Zen masters; American writer and speaker, known for his criticism of Mammon's unholy trinity of big business, big (more...)
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