Abolition-of-Slavery-dayTomorrow is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a commemoration of the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949). As part of the effort to help eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking across the world by 2020, Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Orthodox leaders will gather at the Vatican tomorrow to sign a Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery.

Here are some things you should know about the modern slave trade:

What is modern-day slavery?

Modern-day slavery, also referred to as “trafficking in persons,” or “human trafficking,” describes the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

How many people today are enslaved?

There are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 21 million in bondage across the globe.

How much do traffickers earn for enslaving people?

For most of human history slaves were expensive, the average cost being around the equivalent of $40,000. Today, the average slave costs around $90. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp at least $250,000 a year. Trafficking in persons is estimated to be one of the top-grossing criminal industries in the world (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking), with traffickers profiting an estimated $32 billion every year.

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, it is more profitable for a trafficker to prostitute a child than to commit other crimes such as dealing in drugs. “For one, the commodity (child) is reusable. In addition, technological innovation has allowed traffickers to reach a wider client base and connect more quickly with buyers.”

Who is most likely to be affected by modern-day slavery?

Human trafficking disproportionately affects communities of color. Including here in the United States, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that over 77 percent of trafficking victims in the United States are people of color. According to a report by the FBI, confirmed sex trafficking victims were more likely to be white (26%) or black (40%), compared to labor trafficking victims, who were more likely to be Hispanic (63%) or Asian (17%). Four-fifths of victims in confirmed sex trafficking incidents were identified as U.S. citizens (83%), while most confirmed labor trafficking victims were identified as undocumented aliens (67%) or qualified aliens (28%).

What country has the highest percentage of slaves?

The West African country of Mauritania has the most severe concentration of modern-day slaves, according to the Global Slavery Index. Approximately 4 percent of Mauritania’s population, or 155,600 people, are enslaved.

Where are children most affected by modern-day slavery?

Traffic of children in Asia assumes a more significant proportion of overall trafficking than in other regions of the world. Younger children are found in the sex industry as customers seek to avoid AIDS, and much Asian sex tourism features children and minors of both sexes. In India, children are maimed to be more effective beggars. In China, babies are trafficked for adoptions abroad, with boys commanding more than girls. In Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and the Philippines, children are trafficked as child soldiers.

What happens to teens caught up in slavery?

Most trafficking in teens is for sex slavery. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. According to Shared Hope International, children exploited through prostitution report they typically are given a quota by their trafficker/pimp of 10 to 15 buyers per night, though some service providers report girls having been sold to as many as 45 buyers in a night at peak demand times, such as during a sports event or convention. Utilizing a conservative estimate, a domestic minor sex trafficking victim who is rented for sex acts with five different men per night, for five nights per week, for an average of five years, would be raped by 6,000 buyers during the course of her victimization through prostitution.

What is the plan for ending slavery that these religious leaders are endorsing?

Under the Joint Declaration, the religious leaders commit to “pursuing all avenues and pathways to galvanise global action to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. Action plans for the first year will be developed to engage”:

  • All global faiths to modern slavery-proof their supply chains and investments and to take remedial action if necessary
  • All global faiths to mobilize their youth sections to support programmes to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking
  • Families, schools, universities, congregations and institutions to educate on the nature of modern slavery and human trafficking, how to report it and the destructiveness of harmful social attitudes and prejudices and social systems in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking
  • Government leaders to modern slavery-proof public sector supply chains
  • 50 major multi-national businesses whose CEOs are people of faith or of goodwill to commit to modern slavery-proof their supply chains
  • 162 governments to publicly endorse the establishment of the Global Fund to End Slavery, with 30 heads of state publicly endorsing it by the end of 2014
  • The G20 to condemn modern slavery and human trafficking and adopt an anti-slavery and human trafficking initiative and support the above mentioned Global Fund.

Other posts in this series:

Grand Juries  • Who are the Recent Nobel Peace Prize Winners? • What’s Going on with Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’? •  Ebola Crisis •  Scottish Independence •  Obamacare Subsidies Ruling •  Border Crisis • What’s Going on in Iraq? • EPA’s Proposed New Climate Rule • VA Scandal • What is Going on in Vietnam? • Boko Haram and the Kidnapped Christian Girls • The Supreme Court’s Ruling on Government Prayer • Earth Day? • Holy Week? • What’s Going On in Crimea? • What Just Happened with Russia and Ukraine? • What’s Going on in Ukraine • Jobs Report • The Hobby Lobby Amicus Briefs •  Common Core? • What’s Going on in Syria? • What’s Going on in Egypt?

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