MODERN-DAY SLAVERY

MODERN-DAY SLAVERY

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on the first day of 1863. During the period when the president gave the proclamation, the country was enthralled in a bloody and destructive civil war for three consecutive years. The proclamation declared that all people who were at the time held as slaves were declared free as at the time the speech was made. While the wording was grand, the practical application of the same was limited in many ways[1]. The proclamation was only applicable to states which had seceded from the US, and therefore, the states which were along the border were left untouched. Besides, it exempted some parts of the Confederacy, in particular, the Southern secessionist states which were under the control of the Northern States. Moreover, the freedom that President Lincoln had promised was wholly dependent on the military victory of the Union. However, it is important to note that although the Emancipation Proclamation did not manage to end slavery in the US, it managed to capture the imagination and hearts of millions of Americans and change their character particularly, after the war. The proclamation ensured that black men joined the Union Navy as well as the army such that the liberated became liberators. Before the end of the war, more than 150000 black sailors and soldiers had fought for freedom through the Union.

Interestingly, slavery did not end in the nineteenth century. In the twenty-first century, there remains modern-day slavery, although it is more covert than in the previous years. Black people still end up doing more work sometimes for less pay than their white counterparts. Moreover, it is harder for a black person to get a decent job despite having similar qualifications as their white counterparts. This paper shall discuss twenty-first century slavery in detail and how although people are not working against their will anymore, the color of one’s skin still determines one’s pay scale as opposed to one’s academic qualifications as well as skill set.

Equality of all human beings is one of the beliefs that are deeply entrenched in my psyche. I believe that human beings should be treated equally before the law if equality is to be achieved. In this regard, I think it is imperative to look beyond the color of one's skin to get to the real depth of their character to make progress as a human race. Paying people their appropriate dues at the right time is one of the ways to ensure that covert slavery comes to an abrupt end. Modern slavery is an umbrella concept, and it captures the different types of exploitation that people go through as they try to earn a living. It is important to note that poverty is perhaps the most significant enabler of modern-day slavery.[2] While the data out there is patchy and unsustainable; it is estimated that about 21 million people are in forced labor as well as other forms of slavery. Other sources claim that indeed the number of slaves around the country stands at about 27 million people across the world. Forced labor, trafficking, and slavery are regarded as criminal activities under international legislation. In 1926, the League of Nations defined slavery as the situation whereby an individual has powers of ownership over another person. Later in 1956, the United Nations adopted practices such as debt bondage and serfdom in the broader net of slavery.

I first came across slavery in the twenty-first century when a friend of mine from an African country contacted me on Facebook excitedly informing me that she had landed a job in Qatar. My friend who is a Kenyan had spent a long time looking for a job in her home country without success due to the problem of unemployment the country. She has a bachelor of Arts degree which she attained in one of the most prestigious universities in her country. Having been raised in a poor family, she sometimes had to skip school several times as her parents looked for school fees. She also took up some odd jobs on occasion in order to fend for herself as well as her siblings. Both of her parents died in the year when she graduated high school and therefore, she was forced to look after her siblings on her own since her aging grandmother could barely manage anything. However, despite all the hardships that she went through she somehow made it through university after securing a government assisted education loan which she pays to date. I met her during her second year at the university when she, along with five of her classmates had come to the US to study for a semester on an exchange program. She was one of the most intelligent students in her class and this is the reason as to why she had won this scholarship. She was also a hardworking individual with a thirst for excellence. We became fast friends and would spend all of our time together. We have managed to stay in touch over the years whereby she keeps me updated on what’s happening in her life as I tell her about my life. As a matter of fact, I was able to visit her home country a few years ago and I could not believe the poverty that they are subjected to.

Upon graduation, my friend was excited to grab new opportunities in life and see her life transform. She applied to several companies and got invited to various interviews. However, her country is one where corruption always takes the lead and people from influential families were given the jobs regardless of the fact that they were less qualified. She looked for a job for many months and in the end, she had to start doing odd jobs since her siblings depended on her to feed and dress them as well as to educate them. For the last five years, she has been struggling to pay rent, school fees as well as buy food and clothing for her siblings. Therefore, when the opportunity to go to Qatar as a housemaid presented itself, she had to take it despite having a bachelor’s degree. The agency she was working with demanded $1000 as ‘processing fee’ for the job that she would get. She was also required to pay for her visa and passport application as well as her air ticket. She tried her best and managed to get all that was needed for her to start working in the Gulf.

Once she reached there, her employer confiscated her passports and threatened to kill her if she did not comply with his rules. They took away her clothes and forced her to wear what they referred to as modest clothing. In addition, they told her to sleep on the floor after she toiled for up to 18 hours every day. Her employers would kick her around and spit on her and even sometimes, rape her. However, she accepted the mistreatment not only because she wanted payment but also because there was no way for her to get out of the country. The Kenyan Embassy there informed that they could not help her since she had already surrendered her visa and all her identification documents. At the end of the first three months of her stay there, she asked for payment but they refused to give her claiming that she was still paying off her debt to the agency that had brought her there. Since then, she has been stuck in a strange country working tirelessly and being treated as a slave. She can only communicate with her family through Social Media on the rare opportunity that she gets. These are not appropriate working conditions and yet she struggles through them clinging on to the hope that one day she will meet her family.

Exploitative and forced labor is becoming a big business especially, for private firms[3]. Many countries, especially the developing ones have weak protection laws and citizens who remain largely unaware of such laws. In addition, the denizens are desperate and jobless and would do anything to earn a living. For this reason, therefore, they continue to struggle in these slave-like conditions in order to earn a living. However, being a staunch Christian I believe the Bible clearly calls us to love our neighbor more than we love ourselves. In this sense, therefore, it is of utmost importance for people to ensure that they treat each other with dignity and respect which means that mishandling others cannot be considered. It is important that nations across the world pay attention to labor protection laws and pay their employees more than the minimum wage[4]. This is regardless of the fact that some employees are immigrants and therefore, consider any means to earn a living as a blessing. The Bible is very clear on how Christians are expected to treat their neighbor regardless of the economic situation. Jesus went out of his way to preach love to all nations in order to ensure that people live in peace with one another through time.

Conclusion

Modern-day slavery comes in many shapes and forms. However, discrimination against immigrant workers stands out in many Gulf countries. However, this discrimination still stands even in Western countries since most immigrants work the lowest paying jobs mainly because they do not have much of a choice[5]. Various governments need to find a way to ensure that immigrants are properly integrated into the system of their recipient countries and given better working and living conditions. This way, equality will be achieved and everyone can productively earn a living while building the host country. Those that break labor laws should be dealt with accordingly. Finally, immigrants need to know their rights in order to ensure that they are not infringed upon.

 

 

Bibliography

Burkhalter, Holly. "It's the 21st Century. Yet Slavery Is Alive and Well." The Washington Post. June 27, 2017. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2017/06/27/its-the-21st-century-yet-slavery-is-alive-and-well/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3c169771746e.

Degorge, Barbara. "Modern Day Slavery in the United Arab Emirates." The European Legacy 11, no. 6 (2006): 657-667. doi:10.1080/10848770600918307.

Miller, John R. "Call It Slavery." Two Cheers for Materialism | Wilson Quarterly. Accessed February 22, 2019. http://archive.wilsonquarterly.com/essays/call-it-slavery.

Sage, Jesse, and Liora Kasten. Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

"The Emancipation Proclamation." The New York Times. April 02, 1864. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/1864/04/02/archives/the-emancipation-proclamation.html.

 

[1]. The New York Times. "The Emancipation Proclamation" The New York Times. April 2, 1864.  https:// www.nytimes.com/1864/04/02/archives/the-emancipation-proclamation.html

[2] Holly Burkhalter. "It's the 21st Century. Nonetheless, slavery Is Alive and Well." The Washington Post. June 27, 2017. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2017/06/27/its-the-21st-century-yet-slavery-is-alive-and-well/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3c169771746e.

 

[3] Barbara Degorge. "Modern Day Slavery in the United Arab Emirates." The European Legacy 11, no. 6 (2006): 657-667.

[4] John Miller R. "Call It Slavery." Two Cheers for Materialism | Wilson Quarterly. Accessed February 22, 2019. http://archive.wilsonquarterly.com/essays/call-it-slavery.

[5] Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten. Enslaved: True Stories of Modern-Day Slavery. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

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