(Roughly) Daily

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”*…

It’s all too easy to believe that slavery is a thing of the past. The reality is different…

Slavery officially ended in 1981, when Mauritania became the last country to ban forced labour. But in practice it remains surprisingly common. On any given day, at least 49m people are in modern slavery, according to a new report by the UN and Walk Free, a human-rights group. The report defines modern slavery as people either forced to work or forced to marry. Such issues are often seen as a problem confined to the world’s poorest countries. But the authors of the report reckon that more than half of the global incidents of forced labour last year happened in what the World Bank defines as upper-middle and high-income countries (though poorer countries had a higher rate per 1,000 people).

To estimate the prevalence of forced labour, the authors interviewed around 78,000 people from 68 countries. In some places, such as North Korea, it is impossible to conduct such surveys, so estimates are less reliable than in more developed countries. According to the report, countries in Asia and the Pacific are host to more than half of all incidents of forced labour. Though as a proportion of the population Arab states were the worst offenders, with the equivalent of 1% of their populations enslaved.

The already grim situation is getting worse. Between 2016 and 2021 an additional 2.7m people worked in forced labour, taking the total to nearly 28m—more than 3m were children, though the data show that number is falling. Forced marriages increased by 6.6m over the same period, to a total of 22m. That may be an undercount: respondents were asked if they consented to their marriage, meaning that people who were forced into a relationship but later accepted it would not be counted in the data. Women and girls made up the biggest share of forced marriages, though one-third of those coerced into wedlock were male.

The most common type of coercion faced by workers is non-payment of wages. The fact that covid-19 lockdowns decimated many people’s incomes made it easier to exploit that vulnerability. In wealthier countries, sectors including agriculture, construction, domestic work and fishing were found to have the highest rates of forced work, with the private sector responsible for the majority of cases…

The plague is getting worse: “The number of people in modern slavery is increasing,” from @ECONdailycharts.

* Abraham Lincoln


As we stamp out servitude, we might send free birthday greetings to David Walker; he was born on this date in 1796. The North Carolina born son of a slave father and a free African American mother, he was born free and made his way to Boston, where he became an outspoken abolitionist. From 1827-29, he was the Boston representative and correspondent for New York City’s short-lived but influential Freedom’s Journal, the first newspaper owned and operated by African Americans.

In 1829, he published An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, a call for black unity and a fight against slavery. African Americans throughout the South got hold of Walker’s Appeal, enraging Southern governments. Less than one year after the publication of the Appeal, Walker was found dead of unknown causes. A $1,000 reward had been offered for his death.

The issue of Freedom’s Journal containing the first version of the “Appeal”; subsequent editions followed (source)
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