Slavery never ended in the United States; it continues here and across the globe, facilitated by globalization, corruption and greed. There are more people enslaved today – controlled by violence and forced to work without pay – than at any time in human history.
Experts put the number of slaves at 27 million worldwide. These men and women work across many sectors of the global economy, raking in profits for the criminals who hold them against their will. The US State Department estimates that 17,500 slaves are brought into the United States every year. An estimated 50,000 slaves are forced to work as prostitutes, farm workers and domestic servants in the US.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain recently mentioned domestic slavery during a stump speech. He pledged to establish a task force to coordinate various federal law enforcement agencies to target human trafficking – the process of smuggling slaves between countries. However, the Think Progress blog pointed out that such an agency already exists. Shortly after the speech, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Damien LaVera pointed out in an email that McCain had complained about and voted against a $200,000 earmark intended to fund a conference on human trafficking in 2001. “Once again McCain’s earmark obsession conflicts with his campaign rhetoric,” Lavera wrote.
McCain’s campaign failed to return repeated calls for comment on the issue.
This was the first mention of modern slavery on the campaign trail. Little attention has been paid to the issue by the media, with stories about isolated incidents of slavery in other countries occasionally making headlines. However, international activists and scholars have been leading a movement to eradicate global slavery.
Free The Slaves, an organization founded by acclaimed human rights activist and scholar Kevin Bales, works on the front lines of slavery to find, rescue and rehabilitate slaves. – to