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Saturday, March 17, 2007



Britain, through the efforts of William Wilberforce, abolished the slave trade in 1807. America did the same in 1865. This month as we celebrate 200 years of freedom since the abolishment of slavery in Britain , we may think that slavery has well and truly disappeared from this world. or has it?

The ugly truth is that modern-day slavery is very much alive and thriving right under our noses. Although it is always hidden from view, modern-day slavery is widespread and remains a serious global issue. What's more troubling is the fact that a lot of these slaves are children.

What is slavery?

Few of us have ever seen a 'real' slave before. A slave, by definition, is anyone who is forced to work through mental or physical threat, owned by an 'employer' who uses or threatens abuse, bought and sold as a property and suffers restrictions on freedom of movement.

It may come as a shock but 27 million people around the world fit that description. These are ordinary people - sons, daughters, mothers and fathers - who end up in horrific circumstances such as:

Bonded labour
This category includes people who have been tricked into taking a loan out of desperation, sometimes to buy medicine for a sick child. To repay the loan, they are forced to work long hours, up to 365 days a year. They are given basic food and shelter but they may never be able to pay off the debt, which can be passed on to the next generation. Sadly, it means children are born into a life of slavery.

Forced labour
Adults and children who are illegally recruited by individuals or companies and forced to work under threat of violence or other severe penalties.

Early or forced marriage
In some countries, young women and girls are forced to get married at a young age, against their wishes. Many find themselves in a life of servitude, often accompanied by physical violence.

Human trafficking
Children, women, even men, from impoverished communities are sold and treated like commodities, transported in secret across international borders into various forms of labour and prostitution.

Why does slavery still exist?

The reason is always money and greed. Labour costs money, but it's a lot cheaper to steal people's labour than pay them. The demand for labour in factories, agriculture, domestic help, mining, even prostitution and pornography, finds its supply in the countless communities where families struggle to survive in crushing poverty.

Using deception, abduction or force, human traffickers exploit the situation, and many vulnerable people, especially children, end up as human cargo destined for a life of slavery far from home.

Slavery must be stopped.

William Wilberforce is an inspiration as one who never gave up the fight to abolish slavery in England.Governments, non-government organisations and human rights agencies around the world are working together to combat slavery. However, there is still much more that needs to be done.

Slavery can be stopped, just like the trans-Atlantic slave trade 200 years ago. Campaigning efforts by individuals can help turn the tide. William Wilberforce is an inspiring example of one man's crusade that helped change the world. Wilberforce is an unsung hero in world history. A British Member of Parliament in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Wilberforce led the fight to end slavery in Britain.

His story has now been made into the movie Amazing Grace, scheduled for release in Australia later this year. When it comes take the opportunity to see it and be inspired as you see how one man's compassion for his fellow human beings led to a new chapter in history.

Source: Action News Online (World Vision)

Be encouraged.

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