To those who think slavery is a thing of the past: think again.
Not only does slavery still exist, it is more pervasive than ever.
Human traffickers today make 25 to 30 times higher profit than the slave traders during 18th and 19th centuries. Experts believe 13 million people were kidnapped and illegally sold between the 15th and 19th centuries. However, today about 21 million people worldwide have been trapped by the human trafficking trade.
In fact, the total annual revenues from slavery are estimated to be as high as $150 billion, said Siddharth Kara, a slavery economist and fellow of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
In his book titled “Modern Slavery,” Kara writes that 50 percent of the total illegal profits from trafficking come from the sex trade, despite the facts victims account for only 5 percent of modern slaves.
To put things in perspective, the average profit for each sex traffic victim is $36,000 while victims of other forms of slavery generate an average profit of $3,978 a year.
Today, this illegal trade has a scope and scale as widespread as arms and drug trafficking.
Despite the fact slavery is illegal in all countries and the huge number of victims trapped in it, there were only 9,071 convictions for human trafficking and forced labor in 2016.
What’s sad is that slavery is preventable and can be eliminated within just two decades.
“It is my belief that we could end slavery at a cost of as little as $23 billion. That is 15 percent of the estimated illegal profits of forced labor. It is a dire challenge that we face but slavery can be a thing of the past, it is just a question of the political will and determination to do it,” said Kevin Bale, professor of contemporary slavery at the University of Nottingham.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Eduardo Munoz