Nearly two centuries after the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in the UK, slavery still exists to this very day and is also a worldwide problem. October 18th marks Anti-Slavery Day, a day to raise awareness of modern slavery such as human trafficking.
Moldova, a country in Eastern Europe, has been targeted by traffickers since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Outside its capital, the dwindling population is not a result of residents seeking out opportunities elsewhere. At a glance, the gender imbalance in these towns is clear. The only females are young children and the elderly. Women are ‘recruited’ by agents, generally female, who come offering job opportunities in affluent EU countries. They leave the country with the promise of getting a job, being able to send money back, to their parents, and having a new life. This is not the bright future in store for them.
After leaving the country, passports are taken away, women are beaten, drugged and mentally abused. They will cross over many borders into countries not previously mentioned to them and usually end up in brothels. This is not prostitution. In prostitution, the man or woman offering sex or sexual acts does so willingly and receives payment for it. In these brothels, women are forced to work for no money. This is slavery. With no passports, no contacts and no trace of them in the country, they become prisoners.
Although the number of people being trafficked out of Moldova is decreasing, over 200 people are still removed from the country every year and enslaved in conditions as detailed above. Moldova is only one example of a country affected by trafficking; there are many which are far worse. South Sudan, Libya, Yemen and North Korea are just some examples of countries listed as tier three. The tier three list consists of countries who are not actively attempting to prevent trafficking. While the numbers clock up in each of these countries and many other countries in the world, it is not the number that is the problem. Each individual person has had their life taken away from them, they have been bought and sold like a commodity.
The slave trade is taught in history at schools as though it has ended when simply only the logistics have changed.
Image: Anti-Slavery International