International Day for the Abolition of Slavery 2022

November 24, 2022 | Rachelle

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December 2 is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The General Assembly of the United Nations Convention adopted the observance in 1949. 

When you hear or see the word slavery, what do you think of? Is it the Trans-Atlantic slave trade? For many, the image of shackles and cotton fields come to mind. However, the focus of this day is on eradicating all forms of modern day slavery throughout the world. This includes human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, child labour, and children recruited to be child soldiers.

Modern slavery is the second largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, producing $150 billion in annual profits globally. In 2021, it was estimated that 49.6 million people were living in modern slavery, of which 27.6 million were in forced labour and 22 million were in forced marriage.

To mark this day, the International Labour Organization and Human Resources Without Borders held an international cartoon competition. Each contestant created their artistic interpretation of forced labour. Portuguese cartoonist, Gargalo Vasco won 1st place for his entry below. 

The history of slavery is as ancient as scrolls. Eradicating slavery is thorny and has a way of creeping into civilization in many forms. Sexual exploitation, for example, can be many things from human trafficking to prostitution. It is the utilization and abuse of power or trust as well as economic disparity to obtain sexual favours for social, economic, or political advantages.

Forced labour and child labour are often not as obvious. It can take the form of debt bondage, migrant workers, and domestic servitude. This type of slavery occurs in many industries, including construction, food, garment, and agriculture. 

This December, let's educate ourselves about this grave social issue, read about modern day enslavement, and take action. These resources may also help you on your journey to understanding the insidiousness of slavery of the past and present. 

Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery: A Reference Handbook by Christina G. Villegas

Learn more about how modern day slavery manifests in contemporary society. This "book examines the growing epidemic and recent contexts of modern slavery in the United States and throughout the world, and describes in detail what caused it, whom it impacts, and what can be (and is being) done about it." –from publisher's description

I Cried to Dream Again

I Cried to Dream Again: Trafficking, Murder, and Deliverance by Sara Kruzan & Cori Thomas

"There is perhaps no crime more disturbing than the abuse of a child—and no court cases as upsetting as those in which juveniles who have faced abuse are tried for fighting back. In this gripping memoir Sara Kruzan, a survivor of childhood abuse and sex trafficking, tells the honest, disturbing, and ultimately empowering story of her journey from abuse to incarceration without parole for killing her abuser to finally gaining her liberation." –from publisher's description

Harvesting Labour

Harvesting Labour: Tobacco and the Global Making of Canada’s Agricultural Workforce by Edward Dunsworth

"In recent decades an increasing share of Canada’s agricultural workforce has been made up of temporary foreign workers from the Global South. These labourers work difficult and dangerous jobs with limited legal protections and are effectively barred from permanent settlement in Canada. In Harvesting Labour, Edward Dunsworth examines the history of farm work in one of Canada’s under recognized but most important crop sectors--Ontario tobacco." –from publisher's description

Child Soldier

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Jessica Humphreys & Michel Chikwanine

"Michel Chikwanine was five years old when he was abducted from his school-yard soccer game in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Against the odds, Michel managed to escape and find his way back to his family, but he was never the same again. After immigrating to Canada, Michel was encouraged by a teacher to share what happened to him in order to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world, and this book is part of that effort." –from publisher's description

Room Without a View

Room Without a View (DVD)

"The documentary offers an intimate insight into the private lives of employers, agents, and maids. Laws create a legal structure of inequality and power imbalance that encourages corruption and abuse. Sexism and the patriarchal system discriminate against Lebanese women, in turn, perpetuating abuse against foreign domestic workers. Exposing a modern form of slavery, the film reflects on the role of women and domestic workers in capitalist societies." –from EPF Media description