Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade vs. Human Trafficking

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Ariel Bosselaar
Professor Gabriele Gottlieb
Hst. 300: Writing History
December 15, 2011
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade VS. Human Trafficking
Although slavery may have legally ended in 1865 with the end of the Civil War, it continues to be a problem worldwide today. “The UN International Labor Organization (ILO) calculates the minimum number of people in forced labor at 12.3 million, while research by Free the Slaves, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in the United Sates, puts the number at 27 million.” Even so, there are many similarities between the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and human trafficking today.

All through the Trans-Atlantic slave trade slavery happened mostly in colonies in North and South America and the Caribbean, where slaves were used to grow cash crops and mine for gold and silver. While today slavery happens worldwide, where they are forced into prostitution or some form of labor. Marinela Badea was a seventeen year old girl from Romania who was made to come to Manchester to work as a prostitute. In Thailand there is a problem with children being sold by their parents to make up a substantial number of the prostitutes in Thailand. These are just a few examples of human trafficking around the world; there are many more cases in places like England, Scotland, the United States, China, and so many more locations. Although slavery used to be mostly contained to the Atlantic shores now it has spread all over the world where it continues to be a problem.

Today and during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade people taken to be slaves underwent a voyage to a distant place to be sold to foreign merchants. During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Olaudah Equiano was kidnapped from his home and made to travel weeks to the coast to be sold to a foreign merchant, where he was worked as hard as possible and often not feed as well as he should have been. In Nymlal, Sudan in 1986 a seven year old boy named Francis Bok was kidnapped by raiders and taken on a journey north where he was sold to an unfamiliar man. Almost eighty percent of Moldova women are trafficked as prostitutes and are often sent to various destinations throughout Western Europe. These are just a few examples of human trafficking around the world. There are cases of human trafficking noted all over the world in places like Albania, Ukraine, the United States, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and many other places where people are kidnapped and sent to a far-off land. Because human trafficking is so much more widespread than Trans-Atlantic slavery it is also much harder to eliminate. Today potential human traffickers could include pimps, family members, gangs and criminal groups, brothel and massage parlor owners, leaders in agriculture, people in need of labor, small business owners, large factory owners, and corporations. During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade many slave owners included plantations owners who needed a lot of labor, rich merchants, brothels, mobs, and family members. During both times when extremely poor parents or other family members found themselves acquiring a huge amount of debt or starvation they would sell their children in order to pay off that debt and those children would be then be forced into slavery.

Living conditions for slaves today and during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade are also very similar. During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade slaves were often punished for trivial reasons such as not waking up in time to work, taking too long to complete a task, not answering their master right away, stealing (when slaves most often stole food because they were never fed well enough by their masters), or attempting to run away. And slaves were punished in numerous cruel ways by being whipped nearly to death or by using harsh devices like an iron boot or iron collar. Today traffickers use many cruel and indecent methods to punish and control slaves just like during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Many...
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