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In what ways humanitarian activities can help tackle modern day slavery

Hundreds of years ago, Euclid, a Greek mathematician, wrote in his book that things which equal the same things also equal one another. This mathematical logic and notion of equality is no doubt universal and self evident. It is hard to debate against this basic scientific proverb and prove it wrong. On the contrary, if we talk about injustice and inequality against humanity witnessed worldwide, it is not difficult to prove that all humans are not treated equally although they are same.

The notion of human equality is related to ideas of freedom, liberalism and sovereignty. It is a blessing to born free, in a democratic society where all humans are treated equally before the law. We therefore observe many nations plunging into war and civil conflicts to fight for a free egalitarian society. Millions of people have to shed their blood, lose their lives and go through severe trauma to achieve freedom to live according to their will and not like captives held in servitude.

Slavery is no more connected to Africans being migrated to America and European colonies to be treated as prisoners with no freedom of movement. Slavery was abolished in the 19th century but it still exist is many parts of the world in different forms. Modern day slavery refers to the situation where people are sold like objects, forced to work for little or no money through abuse and threat, controlled by their owner and physically restricted to a particular geographical area. Slavery in the contemporary world takes various forms and affects people of all ages.  International Labour Organisation (ILO) states that around 20.9 million men, women and children are in slavery. Children are forced to beg, work in farms, fields, on construction sites and as servants at homes. 

Poverty and desperation are the root causes of modern day slavery which makes millions of vulnerable people exposed to exploitation by few individuals or big corporation for their monetary profit. In some cases, poor people are illegally employed and some times even migrated to different countries to work in appalling conditions; they are isolated, threatened, abused, underpaid and made to work long hours. In other cases, children born into servitude due to family debt are enchained in slavery. Forced labour is concentrated mainly in Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. A lot of cases of modern day slavery can also be found in Brazil, Ghana, and Ivory Coast and South East Asian countries. Cultural traits, globalisation and world supply chain are also some of the contributing factors of modern day slavery.

Poverty is an outcome of deprivation from basic human rights like access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities and civil protection from the state authorities. Mitigation of poverty can potentially help reduce modern day slavery by changing socio-economic conditions of destitute communities.  Many humanitarian agencies engage with poor vulnerable communities as well as the state authorities to improve the social, financial and economic situations through their development projects in education, health and skills training. Some charities like Muslim Aid also run street to school project where vulnerable children on streets are given hope for a better life. Many charities run specific campaign to stop slavery within a particular industry such as chocolate, cotton and palm oil and raise awareness in public. The main purpose of any humanitarian activity or action is to promote the equality of humans regardless of their faith, cultural and creed and free them from different forms of slavery. Most importantly the humanitarian initiatives tend to change people’s perspective about the way they think about and treat their fellow beings.

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