The 2013 Global Slavery Index states there are an estimated 29.8 million people caught in some form of slavery around the world, mostly in Asian and African countries.
While it would be comforting to assume the U.S. truly abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment in 1865, this is unfortunately not the case.
In the U.S. alone, around 57,000 people are enslaved. Thousands of people who have gone through illegal immigration face slave-like conditions today, coming to the U.S. to only be bonded to low-paying jobs that are built to exploit the political and social infrastructure of the immigration system.
Slavery has been written about in almost every history book in the world, having existed since history was first recorded. Despite the advances in technology and education, little light is being shed on the forms of slavery that thrive and exist today, ranging from developing countries in Africa to developed countries like the U.S.
India, ranking fourth out of 162 countries in the slave index, contains an estimated 14.7 million people subjected to slavery. Other top countries include Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, Moldova and Nepal.
More people need to recognize the extent of the brutal enslavement being practiced in every corner of the world.
But slavery isn’t just about working and being stripped of freedom as presented in most history books. It is about the dehumanization of a people through humility, force and maltreatment.
It’s disappointing to know that humans still practice such discriminative acts of horror, despite knowing their history.
The Global Slavery Index defines modern slavery as the condition of treating another person as property, forcing them into labor, human trafficking and, debatably, being bonded by heavy debt.
Brutalities as horrendous as slavery have been expanded and broadened, where some Americans struggling with debt can be classified as slaves.
Among the thousands of Americans enslaved, Americans drowning in debt and working multiple shifts a day to pay off credit card debt, mortgage, auto loans and student loans can also be classified as a slave.
Americans have reached the point of having their finances dominated by debt, working like robots to live in bank-owned property that can be potentially snatched at any moment is no less slavery than working on a field without pay.
The rights and freedoms of people should be protected and international law should take the proper measures to make sure that all people have the option to live a life of their choosing, without being humiliated or exploited into a lifestyle of slavery.
Lama Alqasemi is a freshman majoring in mass communications.