Around The World, Slavery Still Persists

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Around The World, Slavery Still Persists

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Pierre Asamoah

Do you think slavery is a big problem in today’s world? Most people might assume that slavery is not widespread in modern society, but research says otherwise.

According to 2016 statistics from the organization Anti Slavery International, 10 million children were enslaved across the world.

Other startling numbers:

     30.4 million people are in slavery in the Asia-Pacific region, mostly in bonded labor
     9.1 million people are in slavery in Africa
     2.1 million people are in slavery in The Americas
     1.5 million people are in slavery in developed economies
     16 million slavery victims are exploited in economic activities
     4.8 million people are in forced into sexual exploitation
     99% of people trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls
     4.1 million people in slavery are exploited by governments

In the United States, slavery was supposed to be abolished with the enactment of the 13th amendment in 1865. Yet, modern slavery very much lives on.

Modern day slavery refers to any form of forced human labor. It can take many different forms, such as forced and early marriages, human trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. The issue can affect anyone, regardless of age, weight, height, gender, or race.

And there are many negative effects that modern day slavery.

“I don’t think people in this country understand how big of a problem it is as many don’t understand the depth of the problem,” Shamere McKenzie, CEO of Sun Gate Foundation, told Harbinger in an interview.

McKenzie can relate to to this problem on a personal level. She was a college student struggling to pay her tuition at St. John’s University in New York after losing her track and field scholarship because of an injury. She met up with a man who she soon became friendly with. After telling her story to him, he brought her to an adult club and she began earning money as a dancer.

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  • Shamere McKenzie

    Photo: Loyola University

  • Shamere McKenzie

    Photo: Contributed

  • Shamere McKenzie after graduating from Loyola University

    Photo: Loyola University

  • Shamere McKenzie

    Photo: Sun Gate Foundation

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But he soon brought her to his house where she was held as a sex slave and forced into prostitution. She would be subjected to rape, along with mental and physical abuse. When she attempted to escape, her abuser threatened to hurt her family.

McKenzie’s trafficker was eventually arrested. McKenzie was also charged with prostitution. She was sentenced to community service and began to build her new life, committed to bringing attention to the issue of modern slavery and trafficking.

She also dealt with the trauma of her experience.

“Some of the long-term impacts victims experience vary from physical injuries to psychological,” McKenzie said. “Some victims are not able to have children due to damage to their reproductive organs, brain damage, sexual transmitted disease while others still have the psychological trauma they are dealing with.”

McKenzie graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and became CEO of Sun Gate Foundation, an organization whose goal is to prevent and rescue women and children who are in need of help.
Sun Gate is one many groups created to address the problem of modern slavery.

The people most commonly affected by this are communities and people vulnerable of being exploited. For example, in countries where early marriage is accepted, a young girl will be forced to marry an older man. The young girl has no say in this matter and is given away.

Human trafficking is also a growing problem.

“While there is a lot of education and awareness around human trafficking, I believe we still have a long way to go,” McKenzie said. “This subject these to get to the young people in schools before a trafficker gets to them. When the trafficker does, it’s too late.”

Modern slavery persists in all communities around the world, lurking in even the most unlikeliest places. It is an issue that needs attention and awareness. Without people’s knowledge on the topic, it will not be prevented.

Former President Barack Obama said about the issue, “It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.”

McKenzie travels the country telling her story.

“Human trafficking is real and is happening in America to not only girls but boys,” she said. “No one is immune to being trafficked as traffickers exploit people’s vulnerabilities and we all have vulnerabilities.”

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