Thursday, August 23, 2007

Abolish slavery for good

Today, August 23rd, is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The date comemmorates both Haiti's 1791 slave rebellion, and the passage of Britain's Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. This year, it also commemorates the bicentenary of the British Slave Trade Act 1807, which effectively outlawed the international slave trade and established the ban as a fundamental principle of international law.

In addition to remembering the abuses of the past and how they were overcome, we should also remember that the battle hasn't been won yet. Despite two hundred years of international effort, slavery still exists. Today there are an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide - more than at any other time in history. The price of a slave has dropped a thousandfold - from the equivalent of $40,000 in 1850 to $30 today. Which means that "maintenance" is a low priority - you don't need to worry about taking care of your slaves when you can just buy another one. Many of the goods we consume are tainted by slavery - including chocolate.

If you'd like to learn more about this, then here are three useful sites: Free the Slaves, iAbolish, and Stop the Traffik. If you'd like to do something about it, TradeAid has some suggestions here.

Slavery is a crime against humanity, and it needs to be stamped out - for good.