Modern day slavery
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The International Labor Organization, human rights group Walk Free Foundation, and International Organization for Migration said conservative estimates put 40.3 million people as victims of slavery in 2016.
They estimated 24.9 million people were trapped working in factories, on construction sites, farms and fishing boats, and as domestic or sex workers, while 15.4 million people were in marriages to which they had not consented.
The report added that almost three out of every four slaves were women and girls, and one in four was a child, with modern slavery most prevalent in Africa followed by Asia and the Pacific.
“Forced laborers produced some of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, and they have cleaned the buildings in which many of us live and work,” the groups said in the report, stressing the crime was prevalent in all nations.
The findings mark the first time the groups collaborated on an international estimate and prompted calls for stronger labor rights, improved governance of migrants, action to address root causes of debt bondage, and better victim identification.
“Given that a large share of modern slavery can be traced to migration, improved migration governance is vitally important to preventing forced labor and protecting victims,” they said.
Filipinos are familiar with slavery as an international crime that has victimized many countrymen, both within our country and as they cross international borders in search of greener pastures. Slavery is a crime that knows no cultural or geographical boundaries and respects neither women nor children.
Despite the efforts of our government to improve labor laws and control the flow of migrant workers, many still manage to fall into the age-old traps of debt bondage and forced labor. A populous but impoverished country like the Philippines should have a significant stake in the fight against modern day slavery if it wants to protect its people from this continuing scourge.*