Window International reports: “The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimated 45.8 million people are in some form of modern-day slavery in 167 countries. It is reported that 58 percent of those living in slavery are in 5 countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan– all 10/40 Window countries. These numbers are trending upwards every year. Slavery is not a sin of the past. It is a present-day problem and a growing worldwide epidemic!”
Migrants are most at risk. In coastal cities of Libya there are open slave markets where an average worker is sold for $400USD. Skilled workers will bring even more money. Libya, ironically, has been the destination of choice for Sub-Saharan migrants fleeing to safety in Europe. Unfortunately they tend to end up on the slave block. Too often those trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea fail and end up as victims.
The Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar to Thailand find themselves enslaved by the fishing industry or in sex trafficking. The Chinese hire desperate Filipinos and then confiscate their passports and withhold pay.
Many people are enslaved in their own countries. North Korea has huge forced labour camps of men who are often kidnapped. Women are sold off as wives to Chinese men. Daesh (ISIS) captures women and children and uses them as slaves to fighters. Boko Haram insurgents raid Nigerian villages and capture girls who are either sold into slavery or kept as unwilling wives. Most notorious is Mauritania, whose existing slave class has accepted its status due to ignorance.
What is the answer? Education and coordinated global action are key. Teaching people, especially undocumented migrants, about the potential risks and dangers of enslavement from criminal gangs is one part of the solution. Another is encouraging governments to live up to their commitments to end this scourge.
Several governments are trying to do something about slavery. Of the 161 countries responding to Global Slavery Index Survey:
- 124 have criminalized human trafficking in line with the UN Trafficking Protocol. Pray these laws are enforced.
- 96 have National Action Plans (NAPs) to coordinate the government’s response. Pray these plans are monitored by reputable and ethical people.
- 150 governments provide some form of service for victims of modern slavery. Pray these precious people’s lives are restored!
- Modern slavery is often hidden in darkness. We must shine light on this sin and on those countries and groups that propagate it (Mark 4:22).
- Countries that tolerate the practice of slavery to be exposed and shamed into re-examining their acceptance of this horrible sin against humanity (Psalm 9:19).
- The global news community to be a herald and prolific mouthpiece publicizing the abuse of slavery wherever it resides, and to shed light on this crime which devastates human lives daily (1 Corinthians 4:5).
- Countries and communities to work together to coordinate their efforts and shut down slavery and illegal trading routes (1 Corinthians 1:10).
- The victims of slavery to hear the Gospel message and accept Jesus Christ. Pray they find hope, physical and emotional healing, and the freedom that Christ brings to the broken and abused (John 8:36).