Let’s Talk About Contemporary Slavery

By Casey Chalk

Slavery is at the forefront of American public discourse these days. Some focus their attention on public monuments—even to our nation’s founders—and whether or not such public art is somehow an endorsement of our country’s “original sin.” Some debate the degree to which slavery affects institutional racism in America’s criminal justice system, housing policies, and education disparities, among others. Still others argue over reparations for the descendants of black slaves.

Yet largely overlooked in this “national conversation” is another tragedy: slavery still exists in the United States, and it disproportionately affects black Americans.

Many readers may be surprised to learn that about 40.3 million people globally are estimated by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) to be enslaved today (that’s about 80 times the number of people who have thus far died from the coronavirus). It is also more than at any point in history. “A person today is considered enslaved,” explains a February 2019 article at The Guardian, “if they are forced to work against their will; are owned or controlled by an exploiter or ‘employer’; have limited freedom of movement; or are dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as property.” Globally, more than half of current victims are in forced labor, while more than a third are living in forced marriages. Slavery, which is most prevalent in Africa and Asia, is big business, generating about $150 billion each year.

Slavery may seem a distant problem, but a 2018 U.S. Department of State report ranks the United States alongside Mexico and the Philippines as the three worst countries in the world for human trafficking, one form of slavery. The number of people in the United States who would be classified as enduring some manner of slavery are notoriously difficult to estimate, though some experts suspect it could be as high as the hundreds of thousands, if one includes child labor and forced sex work. An estimated 14,000-20,000 people are estimated to be trafficked into the United States every year. More than 300,000 young people in this country are considered “at risk” of sexual exploitation, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report. Approximately 199,000 incidents of sexual exploitation occur within the U.S. each year.

The insatiable demand of the sex industry drives much of this. “We have a major issue here in the United States” said Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), in a June 2019 interview. “The United States is the No. 1 consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society.” Many of the people trafficked in the sex industry are from outside the United States, particularly Mexico. But most are American. “If you are trafficked in the United States, 85 percent of victims that are trafficked here are from here,” said Brook Bello, founder of anti-trafficking organization More Too Life in Florida. “These are American kids, American born, 50% to 60% of them …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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