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Slavery: A $32 bil. industry with 23.9 mil. employed

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We marvel at our technology, wear clothes as a means of status, indulge in our spices, and unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible not to live off the abundant 130 product types made by the hands of children and forced laborers.

Right now, according to an updated report for this year by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, there are 29.8 million people living as slaves in the world. Worldwide, it’s a $32 billion industry, with nearly half the total made in wealthy industrial countries.

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The roles in the work of slavery include, but not are limited to, child brides in forced marriages, child shrimp peelers, forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, all of which are owned under another person’s will as property.

According to Force4Compassion, an organization that collects data on human trafficking, for every one day, 3,287 people are sold or kidnapped and forced into slavery.

Time Slaves
One Hour 136
One Minute 2.2

Among the top countries with the most slaves, India ranks first, with around 13.9 million (that’s more than Tennessee and Kentucky combined), followed by China with 2.9 million, and then Pakistan with 2.1 million. More than one per cent of the populations in Haiti, Pakistan, and India are in slavery.

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You are most likely to be a slave in Africa’s Mauritania, where 10 to 20 per cent (340,000 to 680,000) of the population (one out of every 25 people) lives as a slave, and one in 10 children are placed into child labor. Sure, it may be outlawed, but it’s rarely enforced, and there’s only been one conviction – the country doesn’t even believe slavery exists.

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Rich and developed countries like the US have the lowest rates in slavery. Ultimately, low drops in slavery are due to government policies, rule of law, political stability, human right movements, and development levels. Equal rights among sexes in a society also tend to correlate with lower levels of slavery.

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Like a desperate message in a bottle sent overseas, factory working slaves will often times hide letters in the products they make. Above is a letter that was tucked away in a Kmart Halloween decorations kit.

And even under the radar and hidden in America’s backyard there are 60,000 slaves. A woman on Reddit posted back in 2012 claiming to be a child slave in the US for four years:

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A user on Reddit made a correlation with India’s slave issue to a certain well-known country:
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Ever been curious about how your iPhone is made?

How about the luxurious buildings of Dubai?

(Images via Target Map, Wikicommons (1), (2), The United Nations, FreeTheSlaves.Net, WalkFree’s Facebook Page, Pawel Kuczynski, Force4Compassion.com, CNN)

Slavery: A $32 bil. industry with 23.9 mil. employed
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  • Erika Watts

    Excellent report, Alex, that is really eye opening.

    • Alex Williams

      Thank you very much, Erika ! :)

  • Rod Willem

    Thought I was fairly well informed, but I had no idea as to the extent of this type of abuse. Thanks for publishing. -Rod