Because of the chaos and lack of government regulation in much of the Middle East, a large amount of human trafficking takes place in the region. In Pakistan and Iran, most modern slaves are used as domestic servants. They cook, clean, and perform other household duties for their owners, much like pre-1865 American slaves. In Afghanistan, however, some slaves serve a much different purpose. They are used to fulfill others’ sexual desires, and are sometimes forced into marriage. Others are used for drug smuggling purposes. Regardless of what work the slaves are doing, it is often dangerous and inhumane.
Sometimes, Afghan families even choose to sell their children into slavery in hopes of escaping poverty. These are the worst cases because if your family is not fighting for your freedom, it’s likely that no one is. In other cases, families will smuggle their boys into Greece in hopes for a better life, but they instead end up being used for labor or sexual entertainment. No matter what kind of slavery a person is forced into or how long they remained enslaved, it can have lifelong traumatic effects on a person. For example, many sex slaves end up with injuries and incurable STDs such as AIDs and herpes. Others end up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may cause paranoia and hallucinations. Slavery is by far one of the most inhumane things a person can be forced into, and there need to be more movements to bring attention to the issue and work on a solution, as well as counseling for all victims. The following video shows just one of the traumatic events experienced by Afghan slaves.
It is estimated that slavery is a bigger problem now than it was a few hundred years ago, during the time of the transatlantic slave trade. It is estimated that close to 30 million people are enslaved today, which is approximately the population(slaves and non slaves) of the United States at the time the slaves were freed. To try to put an end to this issue, the United Nations put together a list of goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Two of these goals are to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” and to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. Employment and decent work refers to paid and humane work, and does not include slavery. The phrases ‘access to justice for all’ and ‘inclusive institutions’ also imply an end to slavery. However, we can only hope that these goals are one day fulfilled. They were formed years ago, but were put on standby so humanitarians and government officials could instead tend to other issues such as the AIDs crisis and the Ebola outbreak. There is no definite reason to believe that another issue won’t soon take priority over ending slavery. Aside from other crises in Africa, there are other reasons slavery will be hard to fight. Human trafficking brings an estimated $32-$150 billion into the African economy every year, and there is no telling what economic crisis could be born from losing that money. Also, it will be hard to get support from potential donors or volunteers. People contributing to social issues like to see distinct numbers that show progress. Unfortunately, because of the lack of discrete numeric data concerning slavery, exact progress will be almost impossible to deliver.
The only way slavery can truly be ended today is if people are willing to be truly selfless. Victims of human trafficking need people willing to gather accurate data of their identities and people willing to have their owners imprisoned. Only time will tell if there are enough of these selfless people to truly make a difference.