Friday, January 10, 2014
The controversy over the arrest, strip search, and departure from the United States of an Indian diplomat unfortunately is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to forced labor and modern day slavery - in the U.S. and around the world. The diplomatic firestorm over Indian consular official Devyani Khobragade centers on an alleged incident of forced labor. Khobragade, who returned to India after the U.S. government granted her diplomatic immunity, is accused of vastly underpaying her maid and submitting false visa documents. The Indian government has expressed outrage both by her arrest and her treatment in detention.
According to United Nations estimates, there are: 29.8 millon people living in slavery around the world today. As many as 17,500 people are estimated to be trafficked into the United States as slaves each year. A majority of these people are sex workers – often minors. Forced labor is another major form of enslavement, whereby employers prey on vulnerable populations – children, immigrants, the very poor, the indebted – and trap them into working for low or no wages. Russia, South and East Asia and parts of central Africa are the places where modern slavery is most common, but the developed world is not immune.
January 11 marks Human Traffic Awareness Day, which advocates are using to try to raise the profile of the problem.