Facts about Slavery

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Fact 1: Many Slavs were captured and enslaved in medieval wars. This gave rise to the enslaved being called Slav, or eventually, slaves. The word slave refers to a person who is subservient to a certain person or influence.

Fact 2: Slavery has been outlawed in every country in the world, and yet estimates suggest there are about 30 million slaves in the modern world. This happens because people do not call them slaves, even though they fit into the definition of slavery.

Fact 3: Chattel is another word for personal property. Traditional slavery, the total control over another person, is chattel slavery. People openly bought and sold other people as if they were any other object, and could do what they wanted with them.

Fact 4: Not all slaves were born or sold by others into slavery. Indentured servents would pledge themselves against a loan of money. In American history, indentured servants were white or European people who had others pay for their passage to America. To repay this debt, they would work for the other person until it was paid off. This form of bonded labor is still in practice today and can be passed on to the next generation.

Fact 5: Forcing people to labor is slavery, though the slavers do not claim ownership of the slaves. It is more likely the slaves are prisoners, who must work to keep from being beaten. Women and children are forced into prostitution in forced labor, kept under control with violence and drugs.

Fact 6: Forced marriage is often held up as a women’s rights issue, something that does not affect the rest of the world. It is defended as a cultural norm, and the bride is expected to follow the will of her parents and then her husband. This makes it the bride’s fault if she rebels against the idea, and makes her unworthy of her society’s ideals.

Fact 7: Forced marriage is not the result of inflexible cultural norms so much as market forces. Cultural norms make limit access to birth control, so families often have more children then they can afford to feed. The poor family then sees the daughter as a source of income, as she will bring in a bride price when she is married. The sooner the daughter is married off, the quicker the family will have access to the money. Most families believe that an early marriage is a better fate than poverty and servitude.

Fact 8: Human trafficking is the primary force behind modern slavery, though it has been outlawed by countries and international treaties. Countries that outlaw human trafficking but do not put any money or regulatory authority behind eradicating it, have made it effectively legal. It is these countries that are the source of slaves for the rest of the world.

Fact 9: Zachary Taylor was the last US president to hold slaves while in the White House. The first state in the US to outlaw slavery was Vermont, and it did so before joining the 13 original colonies.

Fact 10: David Livingstone, famed explorer, proposed eradicating slavery through ‘˜the three c’s’ Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization. It was his exploration of Africa that led to the ideal of colonizing Africa by the Europeans.

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