By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
2nd December is marked as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The focus to observe this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. The abolition of slavery has been seen throughout history as a way to have all people be treated equal. Slavery, also known as enslavement, is the condition of being a slave. It is a practice where a group of people or a community of people are oppressed and are made to work as labourers without any remuneration. Slavery is a term that signifies the injustice that is being carried out against humans since the 1600s. The word “slave” is derived from the ethnic word “slav.” It has derived in the English terminology from the old French word, “sclave” and Latin word “sclavus.” Historians often find the use of the word “slave” and instead refer to the use of “unfree labourers” or “enslaved person.” Whenever this word comes up, usually people picture rich white people ruling over black people. However, that is not the only case to exist.
Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. After a profound study, historians found evidence that suggested the presence of slavery in almost every culture. It was not essentially in the form of people working in the fields, but other forms. Slavery generally happens due to the division of levels amongst humans in a society. It still exists in various parts of the world. It may not necessarily be that hard-core, nonetheless, it happens. Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. This year’s Day of Remembrance pays particular tribute to the many women who suffered and died during the slave trade. They experienced appalling violence, including sexual and reproductive enslavement, forced prostitution, repeated sexual assault, as well as forced childbearing and the sale of their own children.
Globally, one in ten children works. The majority of the child labour that occurs today is for economic exploitation. Slavery was abolished only because Britain no longer needed slavery in order to make money for the country. Slavery was abolished because people finally realised how barbaric it was and how African people were not inferior to them. Slavery ended many lives and stole the future of successive generations. The descendants of those who were enslaved continue to face enduring social and economic inequality, intolerance, prejudice, racism, and discrimination.
In 1807, Britain passed the first legislation banning slave trading and by 1815, the British pressured the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Portugal to do the same. Nearly 5 years later in 1820, the United States made slave trading punishable by the death penalty and to this day, selling, transporting, and owning slaves is considered one of the worst violations of human rights the world has ever experienced. The United States officially abolished slavery in 1865.
Let us take collective action to reduce inequalities, eliminate racial discrimination, and end modern slavery. Today 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery. Children make up one quarter of these victims, while 71% of those enslaved are women. The onus is upon every Member State to eradicate trafficking, forced labour, servitude and slavery. None of us will be truly free whilst these people suffer. Let us renew our commitment to end modern slavery, so our children will live in a world free of racism and prejudice with equal opportunity and rights for all.
International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit