By Luis De La Torre
There is currently a worldwide epidemic of modern slavery consisting of human rights abuse as well as human trafficking. Everywhere from the United States to India, people are being abducted or working cruel jobs while their suffering goes unnoticed.
Human trafficking has turned into a $150 billion per year industry, according to TIME. In this pressing time, there is a need for strict legislation and enforcement to ensure the end of modern slavery.
Sixteen million people are trafficked for labor every year and of them, 4.1 million are used in state implied work. 4.8 million victims of trafficking are sexually exploited, according to the International Labour Organization. In total, an estimated 24.9 million victims globally are trapped in modern-day slavery.
Asia’s cheap labor market is a resource that many other countries rely on. Millions of people in countries like China, Bangladesh, and Thailand work long hours for low wages. Workers at a factory in China worked nearly 60 hours a week to earn wages of little more than $62 a week, according to Drew Harwell of The Washington Post.
Laborers work to manufacture millions of goods for hours on end in facilities with no commodities. Children and adults are subjected to countless hours of grueling physical work to survive and are sacrificing their health.
The buildings are usually not air conditioned; workers do not get breaks, and they have to stand while working. Many of these workers are forced to take these jobs, as they struggle to make a living. If they are injured due to the poor safety in these facilities, they may often lose their jobs. In the United States, more than three million migrant farm workers who come predominantly from Latino countries work every year. They must endure working over 100 degree heat while exposed to toxic pesticides and fertilizers in the process.
“Some places don’t care about your conditions or your life. They care about the fruit,” veteran migrant farm worker Oscar Hernandez told The Guardian.
Many Latino immigrants take these jobs in an attempt to make more money, and they are sometimes promised citizenship by working for farm owners. While they pursue a better life, in reality, they are met with the misfortune of poor treatment from employers for a job that few others would be willing to take.
Immigrants are crucial to the functioning of the United States. They strengthen the economy yet are portrayed as criminals. Prejudices placed upon them act as false justification for their deprivation of opportunity in America. Illegal immigrants should be treated with the same basic human rights as other citizens and be paid at least a living wage since they play such a strong part in the labor force of the country.
While many of the migrant farm workers seek their jobs willingly, there are still people being abducted into these horrible conditions worldwide. Last year, for instance, the media exposed the continuing slave trade in Libya. Many Africans migrated to Europe for opportunities only to be abducted when passing through Libya. Some are political refugees and others are seeking better income. They give up what they have and make major investments to travel to countries like France and Germany, many of whom are then abducted and forced into slavery.
In Libya, they are sometimes detained by immigration enforcement and abducted by traffickers who will look for them in detainment facilities. In other cases, they are kidnapped while on their travels. The people caught in their endeavors are abused and then put up for sale for as little as $400-$800, according to CNN.
The life of a person is priceless and it is brutal to consider that people are being restrained to be sold like property or treated as slaves in the fields. They are being stripped of their humanity and sufficient preventative measures are not being taken to ensure their human rights.
Limited action has been taken for the poor work qualities in Asia and in many of their factories, as it is so profitable. The hard labor of harvesting produce is battled by farm workers unions, but many still suffer. The Libyan slave trade has been protested and both the United Nations, and their government has slowly worked to stop it, but the efforts have been lacking.
It is crucial that trafficking and the horrible treatment of people globally for forced labor stops immediately. Worldwide governments need to address the issues of human trafficking as they continue to destroy people’s lives while their traffickers thrive.