Does Slavery Still Exist?

What most people do not know is that slavery still exists. It is not a thing of the past.  His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, GCVO (a cousin of the Queen), has remarked:

“Many people would assume that at the end of the 20th century the Anti-Slavery Society would be a mere footnote in the history books”.

We all know the story of how William Wilberforce (1759-1833) would frequently introduce a private member’s Bill to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire.  Each time it was defeated until, finally, in 1833, as he lay on his deathbed, word was brought to him that the House of Commons had finally given a third reading to a Bill abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire.  We also know that the 13th Amendment to the US Bill of Rights following the Civil War (1861-1865) resulted in the abolition of slavery throughout the USA.

Although there is no longer any state which recognizes, or which will enforce, a claim by a person to a right of property over another, the abolition of slavery does not mean that it ceased to exist.  There are millions of people throughout the world — mainly children — in conditions of slavery, as well as in various forms of servitude which are in many respects similar to slavery.

The Society's Secretary-General, while undertaking overseas Missions on behalf of the Society, met and interviewed numerous slaves and bonded laborers, many of them young children, in Africa and Asia.  You can read summaries of his reports from those Missions on various pages on this site.

The Society's Secretary-General found that child slavery — one of the worst aspects of modern slavery — still exists today and is increasing. As His Royal Highness observed, “[c]ontrary to popular belief, slavery, as defined by the United Nations, is a growing problem.”  


What is Slavery?

Find out how the Society defines slavery by clicking on this icon:


How Many Slaves Are There?

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Links to other pages dealing with slavery:

What is slavery?

West African slave trade

Slavery in South Asia

Slavery on the cocoa plantations in West Africa

Traditional slavery in West Africa

Hierodulic servitude in South Asia


Rescuing slaves

Slavery Convention 1926






  2003 by the Anti-Slavery Society. The text on any page may be reproduced provided that the source is acknowledged.  This does not apply to photos.