Modern Day Slavery
In America debt is something that we can control, most of the time. Sometimes emergencies pop up, accidents happen, and unfortunately that is out of anyone’s control. Most debts can easily be controlled, whether it is by passing up on going out to dinner with your friends, living in a house where one can actually afford the mortgage/rent payments, or overall living at or below your means.
I know our generation has an addiction to stuff, whether you admit it or not, every year to two years, we’re getting new smartphones. We have to get the latest Jordan’s. Our constant state consumption does have a toll on the world.
Recently, I was going through Facebook, skimming peoples’ statuses, memes and shares, when I came across one that made me feel a little uneasy. I try not to take these posts to heart, and I try even harder to not respond in ways that may seem accusatory or aggressive. I do get mild enjoyment posting political posts on my Facebook page, and at one glance you would be able to see my political tendencies.
So a few days ago, I was going through my news feed and I found a picture of a sign that read: “Modern Slaves Are Not In Chains, They Are In Debt.” At first I was actually quite angered by this statement. I was only looking at that quote through my own context of being an American. I viewed it as another leftists excuse just characterizing the continual shift of our country’s mentality towards a culture of victims. I admit, I was unfortunately very, very, wrong.
Elsewhere in the world, debt can take on a different form. In some countries people who cannot establish credit, may actually use their labor as a source of security for the debt. Although this has been declared illegal by the United Nations, it is still prevalent in India and a lot of Southern Asia.
According to Siddhartha Kara, a renowned author and activist against modern day slavery, nearly 18.1 million people were enslaved in a form of bonded labor.
The International Labor Organization states nearly 21 million people are enslaved in today’s society. The labor from the enslaved people generates nearly $150 billion dollars in income, and ranges in jobs from farming to construction and manufacturing to entertainment. Of the 21 million people enslaved 4.5 million people are in the sex trade.
In a 2012 Q&A Kara delves into why this debt-bondage is prevalent in India: Its foundations lie in the caste system and the rigid Indian socioeconomic structure, with limited to no social mobility. Without any means of establishing credit, debtors can only offer up their labor to satisfy the debt.
In today’s society we truly need to address these problems that were made universally illegal by the United Nations in 1976. According to Kara, however, enforcement hasn’t been as thorough as it should.