Fact Sheet: 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
Modern Forms of Slavery
“We should remember that even today, many millions of our fellow human beings are subjected to slavery-like practices…For all that has been accomplished in our campaign for human rights, we still have much to do.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
The commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade also serves as a reminder that contemporary forms of slavery – such as human traficking, forced prostitution, child soldiers, forced and bonded labour and the use of children in the international drug trade – are still lourishing today, largely as a result of vulnerability exacerbated by poverty, discrimination and social exclusion.
- It is estimated that 300,000 children are currently being exploited as child soldiers in as many as 30 areas of conflict around the world. Many of the kidnapped girls who are made into child soldiers are also forced into sexual slavery.
- The International Organization for Migration estimates that annually 700,000 women, girls, men and boys are being traficked across borders away from their homes and families and into slavery.
- The International Labour Organization reports that there are 191 million economically active children between 5 and 14 years of age. Nearly 40 per cent of these – 74 million children – engage in ‘hazardous work’.
- An estimated 5.7 million children are victims of forced and bonded labour, also known as debt bondage, and 1.2 million children are victims of child trafficking.
- Linked to trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of children of whom 1 million, mainly girls, are forced into prostitution every year. These girls are sold for sex or used in child pornography in both the developed and the developing world.
“Despairingly credible comparisons of scale and suffering may be drawn with the trans-Atlantic trade in Africans in the Americas in which more than 12 million people were forcibly transported over the ocean in four hundred years. It is to our great shame that if today’s statistics are correct, and 700, 000 people are now being trafficked across borders into slavery annually, we will have equaled that total in a mere 20 years.”
Mrs. Ndioro Ndiaye
Deputy Director General
International Organization of Migration
It is the responsibility of us all to work to address the root causes of slavery, to provide assistance and protection to its victims and to ensure that there is no impunity for those who perpetuate the practice.
Through learning about the history of slavery and the slave trade and the collective triumphs and battles that brought about its demise we can seek to overcome the many pervasive forms of slavery that still exist today.
- Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
- International Labour Organization, The end of child labour: Within reach (2006) [pdf]
- Speech of the Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration (5 March 2007)