Sometimes the past emerges in the present even worse. Slavery is one of those ugliest realities that had come into existence since the beginning of human civilization. Slavery has evolved and manifested itself in different ways throughout the history. Today some traditional forms of slavery still persist in their earlier forms, while others have been transformed into new ones. These forms of slavery are the result of long-standing discrimination against the most vulnerable groups in societies, such as those regarded as being of low caste, tribal minorities and indigenous people.
The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery focuses on eradicating modern forms of slavery such as trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labour, forced marriages, and forced recruitment of children into armed conflicts. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.
This day is annually observed on December 2, marking the same date that the U.N. Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was adopted by its member states on December 2, 1949. It is expected to be observed by governments, organizations, and people all around the world as a day specifically set aside to rebuke all forms of modern-day slavery that still prevail in the world today.
Even though slavery is no longer legal anywhere across the globe, human trafficking is still nevertheless a global issue. Latest estimates by the International Labour Organization (ILO) show that forced labour and forced marriages have increased significantly in the last five years. Compared to 2016 global estimates, 10 million more people were in modern slavery in 2021 bringing the total to 50 million worldwide. Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable under these circumstances.
Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and is spread across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries.
The focus of this day is on eradicating all the contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriages, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, let us reaffirm the inherent dignity of all men, women and children and determine to put efforts towards building societies in which slavery truly is a term for the history books.