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How can we say that slavery has ended?

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Before I became involved in questions about human trafficking I believed that by definition it

was hundreds of girls, forced into a truck that drove them to a pimp who lived in the middle of nowhere. Besides, there was not much I could do about it since human trafficking mostly happens in countries like the USA and Mexico.

Today I know that human trafficking is a much more complex issue, which exists in every corner of the world. Everyone of us is affected by it and keeps the demand up. Human trafficking exists because of you and me, we are all part of the problem. However, I presume that the majority of people in the western world might still have the same picture of human trafficking as I did.

The first step towards a world without human trafficking is rasing awareness of the issue. Another important action is to educate people around us about the fact that the way we live is one of the main reasons why the demand for human trafficking is higher than ever before.

Human trafficking exists in almost all industries. It generates 150 billion dollars in the private sector annually (ILO). It takes place in everything from poorly paid construction workers when building football stadiums in Qatar for the world cup, to the cotton pickers in Uzbekistan as well as workers in factories in Bangladesh which enables clothing to be produced at such a low cost.

In Sweden, human beings are being exploited in the berry picking industry, only so that the Swedes can buy cheaper strawberries for midsummer (SVT Nyheter), and in the nail salons, where the manicurists work under slave-like conditions for the sake of giving people some pretty nails that last for a couple of weeks (Uppdrag granskning). One of the main reasons why slavery still exists in our world is because most production of various products goes through outsourcing. (Buisness & Human rights Resource Centre) Therefore the modern slavery can be hidden and consumers in the western world can buy cheap products. Is that really fair?

How come we are taught in school that the slavery was something awful that happened in the 19th century?

In school, it is told that we have come so far since then and we have to make sure slavery does not happen again. Why are we told all these lies when the truth turns out to be the opposite? Today there are more slaves than ever before. A human being has never been cheaper! How can someone say that slavery has ended when in 1850 a person would cost 40 000 dollars in today's monetary value, but today you can buy a human being for only 90 dollars? (ICSID)

Sources: International Labour Organization. 2014. Profits and Poverty. The Economics of Forced labour. Geneva: International Labour Organization. (Hämtad 25-10-22)

ICSID. How Much Was The Average Slave Worth In Todays Money? (Hämtad 26-10-22) <>

Buisness & Human rights Resource Centre. 2017. Modern Slavery in Company Operation and Supply Chains: Mandatory transparency, mandatory due diligence and public procurement due diligence. Buisness & Human rights Resource Centre. <>

SVT Nyheter. 2022. Många utländska bärplockare utnyttjas i människohandel – barnen far mest illa. SVT. (Hämtad 26-10-22)

Uppdrag gransking. 2019. Nagelfixarna. SVT. (Hämtad 26-10-22)

By Matilda Fors, Swedish University Student and Intern at Do Good Now

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