Modern-Day Slavery: An Invisible Epidemic in Plain Sight  | OUR Rescue
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Modern-Day Slavery: An Invisible Epidemic in Plain Sight 

OUR Rescue
Posted by OUR Rescue
Published on March 26, 2024
4 min read
A girl stands in a doorframe in Cambodia

Slavery is often talked about in the past tense, as if it no longer exists and hasn’t for quite some time. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. Devastatingly, slavery is still very much alive in today’s world. Unlike in the past where individuals were openly bought and sold, the current form of slavery is often hidden from public view. 

As slavery exists now, it is commonly referred to as ‘modern-day slavery.’ 

What is Modern-Day Slavery? 

“Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.”(United Nations

Prevalent Forms of Modern-Day Slavery 

The most common types of modern-day slavery are: 

  1. Child Labor – minors (18 and under) are forced to work against their will 
  2. Sex Trafficking – individuals are required to engage in sexual activities 
  3. Debt Bondage – a type of slavery in which victims are required to pay off debt 
  4. Domestic Servitude – forced labor that occurs in a private household 
  5. Forced Labor – adults (18 and older) are required to work involuntarily 
  6. Forced Marriage – victims are forced to marry another person without giving consent 

Recent Stories of Slavery 

  • A man in his early forties forced a minor to marry him with the help of her own family. At age 15 and only a year after her father passed away, the minor was required to live with the man and perform sexual acts as his wife. After she bravely ran away, some of her family members threatened to return her to the abuser. O.U.R. stepped in to help get the marriage dissolved and find an aftercare home for the minor.  
  • A father sexually abused and exploited his 5-year-old daughter by producing & distributing 50 Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) videos of her. He also molested his 9-year-old niece. In December 2023, both minors were rescued and taken to a medical facility for examination. The 5 y/o has since been removed from the home for her safety while authorities are still determining next steps for the 9 y/o. 
  • A Thai bar owner sold two girls for sex, charging nearly double for a child. The human trafficker took advantage of the minors’ vulnerabilities and used sextortion to coerce them into providing sexual services. O.U.R. supported authorities with the rescue of three individuals, including the two minors. They were then placed in a shelter to receive essential care and protection. 

Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) assists law enforcement in cases like these weekly, helping ensure the safe rescue and aftercare of those in need. 

The Magnitude of Modern-Day Slavery 

Today, there are 49.6 million people in modern slavery worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). That number is larger than the population of countries like Uganda, Spain, and Canada. It is also an increase of 9.3 million from the previous estimate given by the ILO in 2016. 

OUR Rescue

While these statistics are extremely alarming, they only reflect reported numbers. With a lack of consistency in reporting worldwide combined with what goes unnoticed, it is very likely even more people are living in modern-day slavery. 

Slavery Statistics 

According to the ILO: 

  • Almost four out of five victims of commercial sexual exploitation are women or girls 
  • 86% of forced labor cases are found in the private sector 
  • 22 million people were estimated to be living in forced marriage on any given day in 2021 

Slavery Specific to the United States 

In the United States, it is estimated that 1,091,000 people live in modern-day slavery, which equals about 3.3 victims for every 1,000 people in the country. (Walk Free Global Slavery Index) When it comes to prevalence rankings, this places the U.S. 122nd out of 160 countries included, indicating the country has one of the lower rates in the world. 

However, with one of the largest populations globally, the U.S. has the tenth-most people of any country estimated to be living in modern-day slavery. 

The Global Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery 

The international community recognizes the importance of collaboration to end slavery in all forms. Government agencies and non-governmental organizations across the globe like O.U.R. are in the fight together. 

This united approach is required because the issue is too large to ignore – too large to leave to any one government or entity. 

Help Make A Difference 

Awareness is the first line of defense against any crime, including modern-day slavery. Once someone is made aware of the issue, they are better equipped to address it. 

Additional steps to take:  

About OUR Rescue 

We lead the fight against child sexual exploitation and human trafficking worldwide.

Our work spans the globe as we assist law enforcement in rescue efforts and help provide aftercare to all those affected. While we prioritize children, we work to empower the liberation of anyone suffering at the hands of those looking to sexually exploit. We offer vital resources to authorities around the world and work tirelessly to raise awareness and meet survivors on their healing journey. Our resolve never falters, and we will boldly persevere until those in need are safe.