The Impact of Slavery
The participation of England in the slave-trade began in the early 16th century, with the country, on par with Portugal, being the most successful in the trading business until the abolishment of Slavery in the UK in 1807. The original interest of the British traders was more-so with the produce from within Africa, such as ivory and gold, rather than the people of Africa itself. The interest shifted however when the demand for labourers increased and rich British figures became involved in the slave trade. However, the prominence of African slaves was less so in England than in The Americas, known archaically as the ‘new world.’ Slaves became somewhat of a normality in the US for many years, with every moderately wealthy person owning one or many.
The exploitation of African’s used for slavery eventually became noticeable to the people of America, with anti-slavery movements strengthening by the 1830s. One impact that slavery had on the US is the divide it caused between the north and south. Attitudes towards slavery was less aggressive in the north, with a higher population of abolitionists as well as fewer owned slaves. As well as this, the higher rate of agricultural work in the north meant slaves posed a threat to workers, as they are not paid, meaning less work would be available to them. This created an economical fear in US citizens, even some fearing that they may have to become slaves to find work. By 1850 a compromise was made between the north and south, making slavery illegal in state such as California, but remaining legal in Texas.
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The term slavery is often seen as an old concept and not considered a contemporary problem by many. Modern slavery is however on the rise and is becoming a multi-billion dollar business. The estimate of victims of modern slavery in the UK has risen from 13,000 in 2013 to 136,000 in 2018, 41% of this being children under 18. According to the Walk Free foundation, the country with the highest amount of modern slaves at 18.4 million is India. However, this form of slavery is well concealed due to modern technological advances. One example is the use of encrypted Tor browsers, in which people are marketed and sold online, without being apprehended. The ability to use encrypted browsers creates an easy pathway for the traders and a troublesome one for the authorities. This has expanded the ability for humans to be trafficked like cattle. The main victims of online human trafficking are woman and children, who all experience the same fear of the continuation of slavery. The affects that this form of slavery places onto children however are the broadest and hardest to reverse, due to a child’s need to form attachments to appropriate and caring adults, which are unavailable for child victims of slavery. As well as this, psychological research suggests that children experience trauma differently and more severely than adults, meaning that the psychological affects of slavery can be life-long. These affects range from; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Anxiety and Suicidal thoughts. One common form of modern slavery that is mis-concepted as a cultural normality is forced domestic servitude. This practice occurs in the UK, with men even being able to buy ‘wives’ online through Tor browsers.
In the UK, the foundation for modern slavery is immigration and poverty. With one fifth (14m) people in the UK living in poverty, many are turning to extreme measures to break free from the grasp of a deficient life-style and some are manipulated into working as a modern slave. An example of how traffickers wield people from other countries for business purposes is the transport of Vietnamese girls to the UK to take part in the nail industry. These young girls are told by traffickers that they will be able to achieve a greater quality of life in the UK, but are forced into unpaid work and housed often in the attic of their traffickers home. The fact that these women are visible to the everyday life of a UK citizen presents the simplicity of the business, but also represents the countries responsibility to tackle such an expansive issue. Other victims can include illegal immigrants or asylum seekers, who are exploited by their employers for no or little pay, in exchange for an arrangement of housing and food “ in which the quality of both are extremely low. These form of labourers have little option but to take such work, due to their illegal status in the country.
Other forms of modern slavery, such as sex trafficking are considered the most traumatic for its victims. The development of forced prostitution in the country has only come about because of the increasing level of demand. As well as being psychologically damaging, this form of modern slavery is one of the most detrimental to the human body. Sexual assault can be one of the most physically and mentally traumatic experiences a person can have. It can cause many physical implications, such as internal damage to the victim which in a female case could lead to infertility, as well as carrying the risk of catching diseases, such as HIV/AIDs. The process of slavery can also be life threatening to its victims. For example, the living conditions of most modern slaves are abysmal. As well as this, the transportation of the victims can be life-threatening. Some modern slaves are transported by cargo in large vans, with little to no ventilation.
The survivors of human trafficking may struggle with their recovery from trauma due to their surroundings. For example, in some places the victims may be socially ostracised by their community or family due to their experience, which can lengthen the recovery process tremendously. They can have shame placed on them due to the association with sex, whether it is forced or not. As well as this, the stigma that has been placed on the people who have undergone this trauma can prevent other victims from possibly escaping the confines of their traffickers or seeking help after they have escaped. Those most susceptible to this are woman and girls, due to gender norms. These norms can consist of views such as the domesticated perception of the women, the prevention of proper education for girls and the objectification of women. All of these norms strengthen the barrier between female and male status and thus exposing more and more women to trafficking every day.
The process of using humans as slaves does not only affect it victims and the economy, but also can have an effect on the environment. The main affect it has is that it contributes to climate change, due to large amounts of CO2 being disbanded into the atmosphere. This can be due to the work that slaves are being forced to undergo, such as the destruction of rainforests for valuable resources, which is responsible for 17% of all CO2 emissions. A way in which this can be tackled however would be the liberation of such unpaid workers and possibly even the creation of a scheme in which they are paid to replant the forests. An example of how modern slave business owners utilise the environment for their own economical gains is the destruction of mangrove forests in India, which has high carbon levels as well as being the habitat for many endangered animals, such as the Bengal Tiger. The forests are destroyed in order to build small factories for the Fishing Industry, in which Slaves are forced to work. The destruction of such forests also removes protection from small villages for changes in weather such as cyclones. As well as this, in places such as Ghana, slaves are forced to extract gold from the earths surface, which can expose them to dangerous chemicals.
Modern slavery is an issue that must be confronted and resolved holistically, in order to; prevent the exploitation of human beings, to reduce the Earth’s Carbon footprint, to eradicate social norms that stabilise the ground in which modern slavery walks on and most importantly save the lives of millions of men women and children around the world.