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Where slavery is still practiced:

Anti-Slavery International was founded in 1839, as the world's first and international human rights organization. They reported in mid-2003 that today: "Millions of men, women and children around the world are forced to lead lives as slaves. Although this exploitation is often not called slavery, the conditions are the same. People are sold like objects, forced to work for little or no pay and are at the mercy of their 'employers'....Women from eastern Europe are bonded into prostitution, children are trafficked between West African countries and men are forced to work as slaves on Brazilian agricultural estates. Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, sex and race." 1

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Laws against slavery and near-slavery:

Slavery is banned by laws and the constitutions of most countries in the world -- even in those countries where it is still practiced. It is also prohibited by the:

bullet UN Slavery Convention in 1926 2
bullet International Labour Organization's Forced Labour Convention of 1930
bullet Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
bullet Protocol amending the Slavery Convention signed at Geneva on 25 September 1926 in 1953 3
bullet UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery in 1956. 4
bullet International Labour Organisation's Abolition of Forced Labour Convention in 1959.

The U.S. federal "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000" was enacted to
"combat trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery and involuntary servitude..." 5 The first charge of using forced labor under the law were brought in mid-2002. 6 Eleven workers from Mexico were allegedly brought to northern New York State and kept in near-slavery.

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Current incidences of large-scale slavery and near-slavery:


Sudan: There is considerable evidence that slavery is still practiced in a large scale in Sudan -- an estimated 14,000 people have been abducted since 1983. However, the existence of slavery is denied by the Sudanese government. Some western religious groups have attempted to buy freedom for individual slaves. Unfortunately, this has become counterproductive. It increases the profitability of enslavement as a commercial enterprise, and results in more slaves being created. More details.


Niger: Anti-Slavery International reported in mid-2003 that slavery is rampant in Niger, mostly in the southwestern Tillaberry region of that country. 7 This occurs even though slavery is prohibited by the constitution and is being fought by stringent new laws. About 7% of the population -- some 870,000 individuals are condemned to life-long servitude. Many are born into slavery and will remain slaves all of their life.


Programs of near-slavery: Anti-Slavery International (ASI) presented a paper to the United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery which met in Geneva, Switzerland, 2003-JUN-16 to 20. 8 All of the major offending countries cited have large Hindu or Muslim majorities. ASI discussed the situation in Sudan and Niger as well as describing situations of near-slavery such as:

United Arab Emirates -- Child trafficking:  Although it is illegal to employ a child under the age of 15, hundreds of boys between four and ten are trafficked from South Asia to the UAE


India, Nepal and Pakistan -- Millions of men, women and children are used as forced and bonded labor in these countries. Most are dalit or from a low caste, or are from indigenous or minority groups. Laws against the caste system and against bonded labor exist but are not enforced.


Indonesia -- Forced labor and exploitation of migrant workers. "Poverty and lack of opportunity in Indonesia have increased the number of Indonesians seeking work in Asia. Indonesia's lack of protection and the Government's existing system for women migrant domestics exposes them to trafficking and slavery." 8

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US Department of State report for 2005:

The U.S. Department of State issues a Trafficking in Persons Report on a yearly basis. Their web site states:

Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, involving victims who are typically forced, defrauded or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation. It is among the fastest growing criminal activities, occurring both worldwide and in individual countries. Annually, at least 600,000 - 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide, including 14,500 - 17,500 persons into the United States.

People are snared into trafficking by various means. For example, physical force is used or false promises are made regarding a legitimate job or marriage in a foreign country to entrap victims into prostitution, pornography and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation or slavery-like labor conditions in factories and fields. Victims suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, passport theft, and physical restraint. 9

The State Department rates most of the countries in the world on a three tier format. They rated 14 countries at Tier 3. These are countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the U.S. federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and are not making significant efforts to do so: Bolivia, Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kuwait, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

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Non-profit groups working to combat slavery:


Anti-Slavery International, Thomas Clarkson House, The Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, London, UK, SW9 9TL. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7501 8920. Fax: +44 (0)20 7738 4110. E-mail: [email protected]


Free the Slaves, 1326 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Telephone: 1.866.324.FREE. and 202.588.1865. Fax: 202.588.1514. E-mail: [email protected]

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "What is modern slavery?," Anti-Slavery International, at:
  2. The text of the "Slavery Convention" is at:
  3. The text of the "Protocol amending the Slavery Convention signed at Geneva on 25 September 1926," is at:
  4. The text of the "Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery" is at:
  5. Steven Greenhouse, "Migrant-Camp Operators Face Forced Labor Charges,"  New York Times, 2002-JUN-21, at:
  6. "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000" at: You need software to read this file. It can be obtained free from:
  7. "Slavery flourishing despite strong laws," The Toronto Star, "Rights Watch" section, 2003-JUN-22, Page F4.
  8. "United Nations meeting reveals slavery's global scale," Anti-Slavery International, at:
  9. "Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Action to End Modern-Day Slavery," U.S. Department of State, at:
  10. "Trafficking in Persons Report," Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, 2005-JUN-03, at:

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Copyright 1999 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-JUN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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