Many Slaves Are There?
because you pass a law on paper abolishing slavery does
not mean that slavery ceases to exist. Indeed,
during the 19th and 20th centuries the colonial powers
passed laws and issued decrees abolishing slavery, but
slaves still existed in those colonies (usually no one
told them that they were free, and often the colonial
administrators in the colony did not wish to offend the
chief by forcing him to free his male and female
are in traditional forms of slavery which were never
eradicated. However, one of the most surprising
aspects of this problem has been the emergence of slavery
in areas where had not existed for over a hundred
one knows precisely how many slaves there are. In
1995 this Society estimated that there were 2.7 million people throughout the world
— mainly children — in conditions of slavery.
The International Labor Organization estimates that the
number is slightly higher than this, and we would suggest
that its estimate is as accurate as you can get.
arriving at our estimate of 2.7 million slaves, we used the
common law definition of slave (see the previous page:
"What Is Slavery?"). This definition excludes other forms of servitude, such as bonded
labor, forced labor and servile concubinage. In addition, it only
includes one category of trafficked women and
children. Some would probably say that our
definition — which is the definition enunciated in 1880
by the High Court of Allahabad in India —
is too narrow.
is simply that we include the other forms of servile labor
under distinct categories rather than lumping them
together under one heading. A "one size fits
all" is not suitable for an organization such as ours
which focuses on rescue and manumission programs rather
than on political advocacy. This is quite important
for our organization as we use different in-country
programs to deal with and eliminate different forms of
recent newspaper article questioned the credibility of estimates by
Professor Kevin Bales and others which give an estimate of
27 million slaves, or others who give an estimate of 100
criticism is unfair to Professor Bales and is based on a
Bales uses a different definition of slavery (which
includes pawns and bonded laborers) to arrive at his estimate of 27
arrive at an estimate of 100 million by including other
categories of trafficked women and children which we
the criticism does not appreciate the difficulties in
estimating the number of slaves. Our organization
has direct in-country experience in estimating various
forms of servitude and child labor in quite small areas,
for example, 5,000 slaves in one remote rural region,
3,000 bonded laborers in another small rural area or 5,000
child prostitutes in one city. Several methodologies
are employed, but it is important to stress that if we say
that there are 5,000 slaves in a certain region that does
not mean that this is the precise number, but rather that
it is in the range of about 4,500 to 5,500.
Following a meeting in London in January 2006 with our
sister organization, Anti-Slavery International, it was
agreed that we would henceforth adopt the estimates
published by the International Labor Organization.
After all, debating whether there are 2.7 million slaves
or 27 million slaves will not free a single child!
The task is to free them!
out how the Society defines slavery by clicking on this
Slavery Still Exist?
out by clicking on this icon:
April 03, 2007