# Slavery in the 21st century

• News
Staff Emeritus
It's still with us.

'A living hell' for slaves on remote South Korean islands
http://news.yahoo.com/living-hell-slaves-remote-south-korean-islands-000536459.html [Broken]

Quite a story! Kudos to Capt. Seo Je-gong, a police captain from the Seoul Guro district.

Pope Francis uses new year mass to condemn slavery and human trafficking
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/01/pope-francis-new-year-mass-slavery-human-trafficking

Andrew Forrest signs up religious forces to fight slavery and trafficking
http://www.theguardian.com/world/20...gious-forces-to-fight-slavery-and-trafficking

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## Answers and Replies

Sex slavery is still rampant

mheslep
Gold Member
I hope that call includes government run slavery, as in Cuba's use of forced labor and in the giant slave camp that is N. Korea.

russ_watters
Mentor
Yes - even in the US - Forum News Service takes on the issue of human trafficking and female exploitation (including minors) in this seven-part in-depth reporting series. We explore the emerging crisis as it unfolds in the Oil Patch of western ND, as well as in Minnesota and South Dakota.

http://www.traffickedreport.com/
While perhaps it is true that sex slavery is an issue in the US, I find it unsettling, unhelpful, insulting to real slaves and perhaps even dishonest that they would re-define all sex workers to be slaves.

Niflheim, mheslep and lisab
Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
In many places in the world debt bondage is practiced, a form of slavery in which in the event a debt cannot be paid the debtor is forced to work for the creditor until the value of their work pays off the debt. In reality they are paid virtually nothing so along with interest the debt is never paid off and it can be passed from parents to children.

While perhaps it is true that sex slavery is an issue in the US, I find it unsettling, unhelpful, insulting to real slaves and perhaps even dishonest that they would re-define all sex workers to be slaves.

Where do they do that? I skimmed some of the link but don't have time to read it all.

russ_watters
Mentor
Where do they do that? I skimmed some of the link but don't have time to read it all.
While many people may see prostitution as a life of choice, advocates and others close to the issue increasingly resist that characterization: Most of the women engaged in prostitution actually are victims, they say, and need to be treated as such.
http://www.traffickedreport.com/?p=15

This thread is titled "Slavery in the 21st Century". It takes several steps of strained logic to turn a by-choice prostitute into a victim and then a slave. One feature of the locale targeted by the article -- the Dakota oil fields -- is that it is pretty hard to get to. So if a girl goes there chained and drugged in the back of a van? Yeah, she's a sex slave. But if she got there in her Civic because she saw this as a modern-day Gold Rush? She's an entrepreneur, not a slave (or at least she started that way).

This logic taints everything in the article, unless lines are drawn (I'm looking, but haven't read the whole thing either). For example:
In his book, “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery,” Kara estimated that North American profits from trafficked sex slaves were $581 million in 2007. So is that every hooker in the US who has left town or is that only the ones who really are sex slaves? We have no idea because of the mixed definition we were provided. And next: Polaris, a national anti-trafficking organization, does the math: A trafficker who has a “stable” of three women with a quota of$500 a night each, seven days a week, could “earn” more than $500,000 tax-free in a year. The same staggering numbers also quantify the “trauma experience” suffered by a woman under an ambitious pimp’s control. A quota of five customers a night means 1,825 forced sexual encounters a year. Globally, 4.5 million people are victims of forced sexual exploitation, according to an estimate by the International Labor Organization. Well, let's complete the math:$581 million at a little over $500,000 a year is 1,060 pimps and 3,180 women. My guess would be these are the actual sex slaves, because that's a miniscule number and I suspect the number of prostitutes in the US is much, much higher. But for a country with 4% of the world's population, having 0.000045% of the world's sex slaves -- I'd say we're not doing too badly. Please don't misunderstand: I'm not saying every one isn't it's own tragedy, but if we want to put our thoughts, time and effort into solving the most problems, what's going on in the USA shouldn't even be part of the conversation. Heck, I bet Boko Haram has more on their own! Later on the same page is a graph showing the explosion of prostitution arrests in North Dakota due to the oil boom. It looks like the global warming "hockey-stick" graph: it meanders along at a relatively constant rate, then skyrockets up by a factor of ten from 2010-2014... to 55. No, not 55,000 --- 55. Is that a joke? Why is this even part of the discussion? It’s unclear how many underage girls are being forced into prostitution in North Dakota, but national statistics show that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14. So we really don't know anything useful here? Ultimately, this appears to me to be a "human interest" story with very little meat. Last edited: mheslep russ_watters Mentor So, let's get real: On the night of 14–15 April 2014, 276[1] female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Responsibility for the kidnappings was claimed by Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist and terrorist organization based in northeast Nigeria... 219 of these girls, aged 16-18 are still missing. They were sold to Boko Haram members as "brides" for$12.50 each.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chibok_schoolgirls_kidnapping

*This* is what sex slavery looks like. It's horrific. Barbaric. If I were President, we'd have had a SEAL team or three on the ground going after them within days.

Niflheim, I_am_learning and Bystander
http://www.traffickedreport.com/?p=15

This thread is titled "Slavery in the 21st Century". It takes several steps of strained logic to turn a by-choice prostitute into a victim and then a slave.

Do they make the leap from victim to slave, though? It wouldn't be surprising for them to speak about prostitution as a whole, while still keeping the specific topic of "actual" sex slavery distinct. You even go on to say that the number of sex slaves you get using their numbers seems reasonable! It seems that you--and more conservative people in general--just want to deflect attention away from any negative news about the US, which you practically state outright:

russ_watters said:
I'm not saying every one isn't it's own tragedy, but if we want to put our thoughts, time and effort into solving the most problems, what's going on in the USA shouldn't even be part of the conversation.

You constantly do this. Why can't anyone bring up local problems without it becoming a competition with the terrorist group du jour ? I could just as well say that if we want to put our thoughts, time and effort into solving solvable problems, what's going on in the USA should be the majority of the discussion. We're not going to "solve" Boko Haram or the problems in the Middle East (this has been amply demonstrated, but we don't seem to learn). But the 3,180 sex slaves within our own country (and this using a restrictive definition)? I bet we could do something about them, and I can guarantee they would like to be part of the conversation.

Silicon Waffle
russ_watters
Mentor
Do they make the leap from victim to slave, though?
The title of the article is "Trafficked" and the title of the thread is "Slavery..." The leap is being made both by the article's very title and by virtue of the fact that it is posted in this thread.
It wouldn't be surprising for them to speak about prostitution as a whole, while still keeping the specific topic of "actual" sex slavery distinct. You even go on to say that the number of sex slaves you get using their numbers seems reasonable!
It does seem reasonable. My problem is that because they mix their classifications, it takes a lot of effort to keep clear what every point in the article is referring to. You almost have to stop after every sentence and ask yourself: "Was that sentence referring to slavery or just prostitution?" It's not always an easy question to answer and IMO the issues are very different (have different causes, effects and solutions) and shouldn't be mixed together.
It seems that you--and more conservative people in general--just want to deflect attention away from any negative news about the US, which you practically state outright:

You constantly do this.
That's part of it, yes. The US gets a lot of undue criticism because of:
A. Americans want a reason to care about certain issues, so they (people, media) link them to America (Astronuc is American, the article was sponsored by Americans).
B. Non-Americans seem to want to link America to issues for other reasons I don't feel the need to discuss here...

For this thread and this issue, it is mostly "A".
Why can't anyone bring up local problems without it becoming a competition with the terrorist group du jour ?
It depends on the local problem and there are plenty of threads here that are strictly about American problems that stay American problems because they really are strictly American problems. But to answer directly and indirectly:
A. Perspective. If we're discussing a problem, we should be discussing the problem, not trying to find a way -- any way -- to link the problem to the US. It distracts from the actual problem and insults the people who are actually experiencing the problem.
B. Fairness. I didn't bring the US into the discussion, Astronuc/the article did. I brought Boko Haram into it for contrast/focus: it represents the worst of the issue. Low hanging fruit and perspective.
C. Turnabout: Why are people always trying to unfairly link the USA to mostly 3rd world problems?
I could just as well say that if we want to put our thoughts, time and effort into solving solvable problems, what's going on in the USA should be the majority of the discussion. We're not going to "solve" Boko Haram or the problems in the Middle East (this has been amply demonstrated, but we don't seem to learn).
Debateable, but again, I didn't set the thread agenda, Astronuc did. If the thread were titled "Sex Slavery in the US", it would be narrowly focused on the US (the article would still have its problems, but at least it would be a better fit). Certainly, people all over the world are provincial, which is probably part of the answer to C, but that doesn't make it right/fair to make the connection in the thread titled to be about what really is a big, global problem.

Consider the common similarly discussed problem of poverty/hunger. We're constantly discussing it and people are constantly linking or just using the same terminology to describe global poverty/hunger and American/Western poverty/hunger. In such cases, I don't just defend the US, but all of Western civilization against the comparison. And while it may seem daunting to talk about numbers in Billions in lands thousands of miles way, the fact of the matter is that global problems like poverty/hunger -- and yes, even slavery -- have seen spectacular declines over the past few decades. Yes, we can make a substantive difference in these issues.
But the 3,180 sex slaves within our own country (and this using a restrictive definition)? I bet we could do something about them, and I can guarantee they would like to be part of the conversation.
Indeed, if we wanted to have a conversation about them or even expand it to sex workers in general - a much larger number and wider (if not as individually severe) problem - and discuss how at best most are damaged, that would certainly be fair/useful -- in a different thread. Again, I didn't set the thread agenda or make the false/misleading connection.

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russ_watters
Mentor
So let's talk more about the problem referenced in the thread title and progress that has been made on the issue to help focus it:

The US slave population prior to the civil war was 4 million (wiki) -- more than the total number referenced above for the world, today. Suffice to say, before it was outlawed it was commonplace in the world, with population fractions big enough that they didn't have to be offset with leading zeros. So the world made huge -- and painful, in the US -- progress on the issue, 150 years ago, and all but eradicated it from Western Civilization.

Today, this is largely a 3rd world issue (with a nod to mheslep on North Korea: I largely agree, but don't think it is quite the same issue). We're 12 posts in, but I haven't yet seen actual reference to the numbers and the where and how of the problem. Here's an article that says the world population of slaves today is 27 million:
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/slaverya21stcenturyevil/2011/10/2011109135233564570.html

Now, some salt has to be take with that due to the source, but one irony for the thread I wanted to highlight (not to belabor it...) is that they reference/compare to the 19th century american slave trade largely for contrast -- as did I in my opening paragraph. Unfortunatly, though, the only country-specific number for slavery today referenced in the article is still for the US. So I'll put it to the group (and I'll work on it more myself, later):
Where are these 4 million or 27 million slaves?

russ_watters
Mentor
The "Trafficked" article would have been better to me if it actually discussed the definition issue instead of just mentioning it, because it informs about the low hanging fruit and would help focus the issue. If legal prostitution is connected to slavery, then the natural place to look for an easy fix to an individual country's problem is Holland, where prostitution is legal. This article says 80% of Amsterdam prostitutes are foreigners and 70% illegal immigrants:
http://humantraffickingsgp.weebly.com/amsterdams-red-light-district.html

The argument is made that some/many/most were "trafficked". I'm not sure I would accept that by leap of logic (numerical claims really need real statistics), but if true, then eliminating a lot of sex slavery in a Western country could be easy: make prostitution illegal in Holland (note: I believe this also applies to the other states in the Netherlands, but I think it is reasonable to keep them separate in the discussion).

As a mid-level estimate, there are about 25,000 prostitutes in the Netherlands, which by above logic makes for 17,500 sex slaves. Making prostitution illegal would have a significant impact on those numbers.

Not to belabor the USA comparison/contrast, but this suggests that basically with a free stroke of a pen you could help a lot more people than are even affected by the problem in the US (which is also a much larger country).

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Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
As I posted above a large part of modern day slavery comes in the form of debt bondage. Comparisons to chattel slavery (which we're more familiar with in the west) should idealy be explained clearly to avoid confusion.

russ_watters
Bystander
Homework Helper
Gold Member
From the first link, "Officials searched more than 38,000 salt, fish and agricultural farms and disabled facilities and found more than 100 workers who had received no — or only scant — pay, ....." Let's say these were all single employee businesses, and make a blanket extension of that ratio to planet earth, and put all seven billion people on the planet to work, and do a similar sweep for slaves --- we'll find eighteen million slaves. "Single employee businesses?" Let's cut that by a factor of ten. Everybody working? By another factor of two. Now, we're down to nine hundred thousand.
Where are these 4 million or 27 million slaves?
That's if there are that many low-tech forced labor employment positions on the planet --- this is a highly automated, post-industrial revolution economy in which to compete --- use of human beings as prime movers, or automatons is NOT terribly competitive --- with the possible exception of drug processing and smuggling, and that's a whole different can of worms.

The title of the article is "Trafficked" and the title of the thread is "Slavery..." The leap is being made both by the article's very title and by virtue of the fact that it is posted in this thread.

For what it's worth, this makes absolutely no sense to me. A PF thread title cannot affect a definition in an unrelated article for one, and to say that they equate all prostitutes with sex slaves, if true, should be backed up by a clear statement of such in the article.

russ_watters said:
It depends on the local problem and there are plenty of threads here that are strictly about American problems that stay American problems because they really are strictly American problems. But to answer directly and indirectly:
A. Perspective. If we're discussing a problem, we should be discussing the problem, not trying to find a way -- any way -- to link the problem to the US. It distracts from the actual problem and insults the people who are actually experiencing the problem.
B. Fairness. I didn't bring the US into the discussion, Astronuc/the article did. I brought Boko Haram into it for contrast/focus: it represents the worst of the issue. Low hanging fruit and perspective.
C. Turnabout: Why are people always trying to unfairly link the USA to mostly 3rd world problems?

Fair enough, but I don't think anyone is trying to link the US to a third world problem in this case. Bringing up that something is an issue in the US as well as elsewhere isn't some attempt to sully our reputation.

russ_waters said:
Debateable, but again, I didn't set the thread agenda, Astronuc did. If the thread were titled "Sex Slavery in the US", it would be narrowly focused on the US (the article would still have its problems, but at least it would be a better fit). Certainly, people all over the world are provincial, which is probably part of the answer to C, but that doesn't make it right/fair to make the connection in the thread titled to be about what really is a big, global problem.

Again, this is a perfect thread to discuss sex slavery in the US. There's no misleading or false connection (unless maybe the article does define all sex workers as slaves; I highly doubt it actually does).

*edit: It just occurred to me that what you're saying would make sense if the article never claimed to be about slavery but simply prostitution. Then including it could be misleading. But you say that the article defines sex workers as slaves, so I don't know. I'll let Astronuc chime in if he wants. I really don't have time to read the article now.

mheslep
Gold Member
Again, this is a perfect thread to discuss sex slavery in the US.

That misses the point of the call for clarification made earlier by Russ and others, that being for request for distinction between slavery and the world's oldest profession instead of a heedless continuation as if there's no difference. In particular, this thread started with the fact of ongoing global chattel slavery, e.g.:

AP story about S. Korean island said:
...Kim broke down, begged for help, said he'd been held against his will. The man offered to take them to the police to file a report. Instead, he called their boss, who beat Kim with a rake — and it was back to the salt fields.

In posts #2 and #4, the thread adds sex to the topic, without caveat, and in so doing conflates the unambiguous accounts of chattel slavery referenced in post #1 with prostitution via the reference ambiguously titled "TRAFFICKED". The definition of the title entails some form of control by a third party, but that ambiguously could mean anything from management to shackled in the back of a van. Indeed, the reference mixes accounts of prostitution by adults acting out of their own home no less, alongside anecdotes of forced (or at least coerced) prostitution of minors by pimps.

Importantly, I think the choice of the best response to the various problems hinges on the recognition of the difference: slavery of any kind demands action by the law-enforcement arm of the state. Intervention by the state in the event of prostitution by consenting adults has mixed results.

Evo
Mentor
I have deleted the inappropriate link posted by Astronuc (it is not a source allowed by the rules). I have left the responses up for now since Russ spent so much time dealing with what was contained in the link, and Russ I would like to delete all references to Astro's now deleted post in order to get the thread back on track to avoid more people jumping in and posting about it, but I will leave that up to you.

Going forward, all members please only reference the links in the OP for responses, new acceptable references are of course welcome.

Thank you.

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Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
The following seems appropriate : http://www.globalslaveryindex.org.

In relation to the thread so far the http://d3mj66ag90b5fy.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/GSI2014_full_methodology_new-op.pdf [Broken] for the global slavery index is interesting. Their definition of slavery relied firstly on these questions:

The final questions were:

1. Have you or has anyone in your immediate family ever been forced to work by an employer?
2. Have you or has anyone in your immediate family ever been forced to work by an employer to repay a debt with that employer?
3. Have you or has anyone in your immediate family ever been offered one kind of work, but then were forced to do something else and not allowed to leave?
4. Have you or has anyone in your immediate family ever been forced to marry?

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