Dear Future president,
I am sure that there are many things that you have to focus on and fix to try and make our county a safer and greater place to live, and that a topic that is reminder of our country’s past is not your top priority. My name is Hannah Svendsen, a high school student, that is simply trying to make sure the world that I am entering into is one that I want to be in. Like I stated earlier, a topic that reminds us of our country’s past is not your top priority. I encourage you, please keep reading.
There are 45.8 million people enslaved throughout 167 countries, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. Out of those enslaved, 58% of these enslaved people are in countries that we communicate and work with. The US is ranked 72 out of 167 countries that have modern slavery. The US has 57,700 modern slaves. There are many forms of modern slavery such as debt bondages, forced labor, descent based slavery, child slavery, and forced or early marriage. The United States has the forced labor and some debt bondages, we also have prostitution and sex exploitation with children. Slavery doesn’t only strip a person of their humanity but also isolates them from the world around them. Many victims will recall feeling like they are trapped in a black hole.
Some of the 57,700 modern slaves in the U.S. are in forced labor. Forced labor is any work or service which people are forced to do against their will with the threat of punishment. Millions of men, women, and children are affected around the world from forced labor. Some jobs that are known to have forced labor slaves are agriculture and fishing, domestic work, construction, mining, quarrying, brick kiln, prostitution, and sex exploration. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimate that there are at least 20.9 million people that are in forced labor worldwide . Bonded labor also tends to connect with forced labor. Bonded labor is the widest spread and the least known form of modern day slavery. One bonded labor slave when labor is demanded as a means of repayment of a loan. Most people are tricked into a job that makes very little income and they can never be free or work for someone else. A family might take a low paying job to pay back a loan because they want to keep their children safe and give them a good life.
Descent based slavery is a form of modern slavery that describes a situation where people are born into a ‘slave class’- a group viewed as being in slavery by other members of their society. These child, woman, and man will face a lifetime of exploitation. These people are forced to work without pay for their so-called ‘masters’. These people are stripped of their humanity and treated as property by their ‘masters’. They can be inherited, sold or given away as a gift or wedding present. Any children that are born into this form of modern day slavery, are considered property of the ‘master’ and can be taken away from their mothers.This was the exact same thing that Americans did to slaves before the civil war. This issue did not only happen in the U.S., it is happening in many other countries.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) there are 5.5 million children in slavery or in practices similar to slavery. Most child slaves are used by others who want to profit from them. There are many ways that a predator could profit off of a child slave. Some are through violence, abuse, and threats in prostitution and pornography, forced child labor, children forced to take place in armed conflict, and children domestic workers. Another thing that could be considered child slavery is child forced marriage. While marriage under the age of 18 years-old is a culturally accepted practice in many countries. The UNICEF estimated that 11% of women worldwide married before the age of 15. Nowadays there has been more awareness about the negative effects that child marriage has on education, physical and psychological health. It is important to know that many of these marriages involving children will not amount to slavery. Some marriages end up perfectly fine with no problems. However, child marriage can also obscure what are actually cases of slavery or slavery-like practices.
The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that there is one to start with. Slavery is something that has been around for a long time and will continue to be around until we decide to take action. John F. Kennedy once said “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” (JFK Inaugural Address). With these words echoing in our minds’ let us, as a nation, begin to take action in stopping modern day slavery. Let us start small and end slavery for those 57,700 people that have been stripped of their humanity in the United States. Let us bring hope to these people that they will no longer live in isolation or fear of going back into a black hole of a life. We will gradually work our way up. One day we will say that 5.5 million children are no longer enslaved. One day we will be able to say that 45.8 million people no longer living a life of slavery. That 45.8 million people have gained their Natural Rights back and no longer fear of being taken back into a life of isolation.
So, take the first step, as a nation, out of many in the process of ending modern day slavery.