Modern Day Slavery
If asked, most people assume that slavery ended in 1865 with the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War. However, there is a continuing problem of modern-day slavery. It has been estimated that as many as 21 million people live under conditions of slavery today, caught up in a multibillion dollar industry. According to the UN, the nation of India has the most slaves of any nation, some 14 million, which is more than 1 percent of the population.
There are several types of modern day slavery. Slavery by descent, which is the most common understanding (the southern United States before the Civil War), continues to exist in certain parts of Africa, especially Mauritania, despite government denial. In western countries, sex slavery is the most often form of modern day slavery encountered. Often women and young girls are recruited and then transferred from poor nations (Thailand, China, Nigeria) into richer nations, such as the United States or Western Europe. These women are promised a better life, but are tricked into owing debts that they can never pay off, forced into prostitution in brothels and massage parlors.
Other forms of modern day slavery include bonded labor, in which a person takes on debt that they cannot pay off without forced labor. Individuals are trapped in cycles of working under abusive conditions for generations. This form of slavery is prevalent in South Asia.