Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Horrors of Modern Slavery

                  By Bayo Ogunmupe
       Modern slavery is a crime committed every day under our noses in Nigeria and all over the world. In fields, factories, in the media, building sites, brothels and homes the atrocity continues unabated. It takes many forms: human trafficking, forced and bonded labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced marriages.
       Other slavery guises include workers being owed salaries, states in Nigeria not wanting to pay the salaries of their state and local government workers. President Muhammadu Buhari has not paid the pensions of Nigeria's former heads of state for the past 10 months. Any wonder why the Academic Staff Union of Universities want to have a separate pension administrator of their own? Sadly, there are an estimated 4.5 million people enslaved in the world today. This number is roughly equivalent  to the population of Spain.
       The Global Slavery Index of 2016 assessed the problem and the inadequacy of government response to it in 167 countries including Nigeria. North Korea where about 4.4 percent of the population is enslaved, has the highest incidence of servitude in the world. In this game of man's inhumanity to man, North Korea is followed by Uzbekistan at 3.97 percent of her population and Cambodia at two percent.
       In terms of absolute numbers, India by far has more people in slavery than any other country with 18.3 million enslaved people. But the present government of Narendra Modi is taking giant strides to tackle the problem. In sub Saharan Africa slavery is a booming criminal industry. Forced labour, one of its kind generates $150 billion yearly in illegal profits. Figures from the International Labour Organization (ILO) show this is more than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most of African countries.
       The ILO shows that there are 21 million victims of forced labour worldwide, 19 million of whom are exploited by criminals working for themselves or gangs. And over 2 million slaves are exploited by nation states or rebel groups. Indeed, more than one quarter of enslaved people working for individuals, gangs or states are sexually exploited.
       Also, victims of sex trafficking include more than two million children. In Nigeria, there are scores of baby factories  where babies are reared and sold  as slaves. In fact perhaps owing to the current recession, some parents sell or barter their wards for food. Nearly one in three of trafficked people who are found are children,  according to a 2014 UN report on human trafficking.
       In Africa and the Middle East, children make up the majority of victims of slave labour. In Europe and Central Asia, victims of trafficking are adults, mainly women. Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi  founded the charity-Save the Child Movement, which has rescued more than 80,000 enslaved children in South Asia. Satyarthi also leads the Global March Against Child Labour, a global movement to bring child labour  and child slavery to the attention of world leaders. For safety, the best a country like Nigeria can do is to allocate as much money to skills acquisition for in and out of school children as is given tertiary and higher education. Though the education of the citizen is important for development, skills acquisition is all the more so for the well-being of a nation state.

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