People have been taking other people as slaves since the first cities and nations were built. Most people in the Western world today agree that slavery is a crime against humanity. It wasn’t seen this way in the past, though, and it was a part of society for thousands of years all around the globe. In many places, it still exists today.
Slavery Around the World
In China, the Great Wall was built with forced labor. In ancient Mexico, the Aztecs built their society on slavery. Ancient Rome and Greece were also built on slavery, and one can even find slavery described in the Bible.
There is one place that has had more slavery than anywhere else in the world: Africa. When the Europeans showed up, some Africans offered to trade slaves in return for products. Some tribes became very wealthy because of this.
Hundreds of thousands of African slaves were shipped to North America. European nations brought more than ten million African slaves to South America and the Caribbean.
Europeans participated in the African slave trade for around 300 years, from the 16th to the 19th century. Many Christians found slavery barbaric and inhumane, so they worked to stop it. In 1833, the British Parliament enacted the Slavery Abolition Act, which freed most of the slaves in the British Empire. The United States followed later, abolishing slavery after the Civil War.
There is less slavery today in the world than at any other time in known history. But there are still many slaves. According to the United Nation’s International Labor Organization, there are 40 million slaves in the world today. Africa is still the place with the most slavery. The country of Libya now has slave markets where people are bought and sold.
The Future of Slavery
What will the future of slavery be? Looking at history, we can see that slavery is common, and that we are actually living in an usual time where slavery is illegal in many places. But there are some countries where slavery is actually coming back. Will the world keep saying no to slavery?