International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, December 2, reminds us that people should never be considered ‘property’ again.

In modern Australia, it isn’t long until the conversation turns to the property market, with some claiming that Australians have gone property-mad. The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery reminds us though that in recent history similar property discussions were being had about ‘human property’ – slaves.
December 2 is the day that the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949). The main focus of this day of abolition is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery.
Slavery was historically considered the condition in which one human being was purchased and controlled by another person. With slaves being considered by law as property. So the slaves of the past were usually deprived of most of the rights ordinarily held by free persons.  The same sorts of deprivations suffered by many victims of modern slavery.
The Abolition of slavery happened in Britain from 1833 onwards. Then the French in 1848.  And then U.S.A.1865 with the US 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Shamefully, the last country to abolish slavery was Mauritania as recently as 1981.

The 2021 theme for this Day of remembering abolition is:

“Ending Slavery’s Legacy of Racism: A Global Imperative for Justice”.
The theme highlights the importance of acknowledging slavery’s impact on the modern world and its long-lasting effects. Also, the theme acts as a call to action to mobilize action against prejudice, racism, and injustice. Which continue to contribute to the modern enslavement of people within, and outside of, Australia.
Contemporary Slavery
Modern slavery, like legitimate commercial activities such as the housing market, is very lucrative.  It creates $200 billion dollars in illegal profits each year. Modern slavery practices include forced marriage, human trafficking, exploitative child labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and the forced recruitment of children for armed conflict.
The  International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. Astonishingly, more than 150 million children (International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour) are subject to child labour, accounting for almost one in ten children around the world.

 “It’s absolutely unacceptable, cruel and illegal that 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 30 years after the Convention on the rights of the Child, that nearly 300million children work. This must change and it must change now”

Fernando Morales de la Cruz


United Nations 2020 Facts and Figures:

  • An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
  • There are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
  • 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
  • Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million people in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
  • Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour. Accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry. And 58% in other sectors.


Modern slavery is a real and current situation. It is not a historical anachronism. We need to take this seriously and act.

Why does it still exist?

Racism and prejudice are historical and current drivers of slavery. But, there is no single driver factor which determines a person’s likelihood to enslave others. Or the vulnerability of individuals to being enslaved. Being poor and impoverished or a migrant fleeing war zones, droughts or tyrants are also common vulnerabilities.

Here is how we can help Abolish Modern Slavery:

1. Making a small change, in how we shop, where we invest our money, and what businesses we support can make a huge difference.

2. Be informed. Read, learn, talk to family and friends about these statistics and where slavery is hidden.

3. Find out how slaves you have working for you and work to reduce that. You can do that here.

4. Listen to this podcast: The Dirty Business of Modern Slavery

5. Do a short e-course on Modern Slavery. Do that here.

6. Get your workplace thinking about the risk of slavery in their supply chains. Read more here.

7. Simply sharing these articles during 16 Days of Freedom will raise awareness. And awareness helps create change.


Reference: (1) Addressing Modern Slavery – Justine Nolan and Martijn Boersma
Written by: Marcel Savery

Pic by: @christianwinklercreative



Want to Make a Difference NOW?


High Teas for Humanity – Celebrate freedom on Human Rights Day (10th December) by coming to our High Tea or you could run your own high tea and fundraise for victims of violence in slavery in our Survivor School.

End of Year Giving – purchase from our shop and know that 100% of the profits from your purchase supports victims of violence in slavery in our survivor school.


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