Slavery is a word which immediately conjures up very specific images in our minds. When it is mentioned we tend to think of people, almost always black people; degraded, abused and bound in chains, and we tend to think of such images, and the word slavery itself, as belonging to another era. We do not see slavery as belonging to our world, not as something which is still happening today.
Yet the truth is that if William Wilberforce were alive today and he traveled to different parts of the world – not just in Africa, but also in large parts of Asia, the Middle East, South America and even parts of Europe – he would find children living in conditions and circumstances which Wilberforce would understand and which I am sure he would describe as slavery. It is believed there are nearly nine million children around the world today who are enslaved. There are international charters and covenants which try to come to a legal definition of what constitutes slavery.
In essence these documents define slavery in the modern world as a situation where a human being and their labor are owned by others, and where that person does not have the freedom to leave and is forced into a life which is exploitative, humiliating and abusive.