Slavery: The worst violation of human rights
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
25 March is celebrated as the ‘International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery’ and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The day honours and remembers those who suffered and died as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade, which has been called “the worst violation of human rights in history”, in which over 400 years more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims.
Slavery is a term that signifies the injustice that is being carried out against humans since the 1600s. Whenever this word comes up, usually people picture rich white people ruling over black people. However, that is not the only case to exist.
After a profound study, historians found evidence that suggested the presence of slavery in almost every culture. It was not essentially in the form of people working in the fields, but other forms. Slavery generally happens due to the division of levels amongst humans in a society. It still exists in various parts of the world. It may not necessarily be that hard-core, nonetheless, it happens.
Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today.
This year’s Day of Remembrance pays particular tribute to the many women who suffered and died during the slave trade. They experienced appalling violence, including sexual and reproductive enslavement, forced prostitution, repeated sexual assault, as well as forced childbearing and the sale of their own children.
Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade’s causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice. Slavery ended many lives and stole the future of successive generations. The descendants of those who were enslaved continue to face enduring social and economic inequality, intolerance, prejudice, racism, and discrimination.
In 1807, Britain passed the first legislation banning slave trading and by 1815, the British pressured the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Portugal to do the same. Nearly 5 years later in 1820, the United States made slave trading punishable by the death penalty and to this day, selling, transporting, and owning slaves is considered one of the worst violations of human rights the world has ever experienced. The United States officially abolished slavery in 1865.
Let us take collective action to reduce inequalities, eliminate racial discrimination, and end modern slavery. Today 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery. Children make up one quarter of these victims, while 71% of those enslaved are women.
The onus is upon every Member State to eradicate trafficking, forced labour, servitude and slavery. None of us will be truly free whilst these people suffer. Let us renew our commitment to end modern slavery, so our children will live in a world free of racism and prejudice with equal opportunity and rights for all.
(The author is a columnist and hails from Jodhpur Tekra Ahmedabad)