Slavery, is a word that we associate with only occurring in the past when black people were forced into labor by white men. What many people don’t know is that even though slavery was abolished in America, various forms of slavery are still thriving in the shadows of many different countries. The difference between slavery in 1800’s and modern slavery is that the majority of slaves in the 1800’s were of African decedents and born into slavery with no choice, but the slavery we know now is much more vast than what it was before. Many people that end up in slavery are manipulated and deceived into forced labor or human sex trafficking. The slaves of today are usually low income minorities that are tricked into deadened jobs or women that are manipulated into human trafficking and forced to be sex slaves. Many of these people are isolated physically and forced to work in remote locations and unable to communicate for help.
Maung Htay, a Burmese migrant who was forced to work on the seas said,“I decided to swim for my life . . . because nothing could be worse than being a slave. I knew only two things. I would die or be liberated. If I didn’t die, I would get freedom.” In the same way Frederick Douglass, a African-American slave, decided that he would rather risk his life attempting to escape enslavement, rather than be enslaved for the rest of his life. Even though he feared the difficulties of: “starvation, drowning, scorpions, wild beasts, snakes, being captured and shot dead on the spot” that came with escaping, Douglass said,”… it was a doubtful liberty at most, and almost certain death if we failed . . . I should prefer death to hopeless bondage.”
Many Slaves in both time periods are neglected and mistreated. “I worked days and nights, in the rain, in the heat and in the storm . . .We were not fed sufficiently. We had to work even when we were injured and sick. They gave no medicine and treatments. Sick people who couldn’t work got shot.”, says Htay. According to Douglass,”The children unable to work in the field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets, nor trousers . . .There were no beds given the slaves, unless one coarse blanket be considered such, and none but the men and women had these.” Slave owners in the 1800’s controlled their slaves by not only inflicting harm to them physically but also upon them emotionally and mentally. They make their slaves feel as though they have no power and are nothing more than dispensable tools for white men. “Men and women, old and young, married and single, were ranked with horses, sheep, and swine. There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all holding the same rank in the scale of being.” This is the same way modern slaves are controlled and unable to be free. According to Maung Htay, “I was very sad seeing my colleagues killed. But I could do nothing except feel sad. They have pistols and we have nothing. We can’t go against them.”
Slavery is very much still alive in our world today, and we support it by buying diamonds, and different types of clothing, electronic devices, and chocolate. When we buy things that are produced by slaves, we are allowing and funding for this cycle of inhumanity to continue.