The United Nations has proclaimed August 23rd as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, but this will bring little joy to the children and adults still being trapped for prostitution, domestic servitude, forced beggary and other abuses. 2001 saw a record high number of people are being trafficked against their will. With conservative estimates placing the number of trafficked humans at 700,000 each year, the issue is hardly just a matter of historical reflection.
The challenge is no small order. Greed is the engine driving this slave trade, with the annual earnings from trafficking reaching up to between $5 billion and $7 billion. Often the very officials paid to protect women and children are the wealthy beneficiaries of the trade. Organised crime is now also a major player in the field as the profits from human trafficking rival those of drug smuggling and gun running.
Slavery, the slave trade and slavery-like practices still exist. There are modern manifestations of these phenomena and such practices represent some of the gravest violations of human rights.