February marked the 200th anniversary of laws that disallowed human trafficking. In conjunction with this bicentennial the film Amazing Grace, based on the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce, is slated to open in theaters nationwide in February 2007. The film highlights moral values in society and focuses on how Wilberforce who, as a member of Parliament, navigated the world of 18th Century backroom politics to end the slave trade in the British Empire.
Although slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833-34, and in the United States in 1865, and today no national government officially allows the ownership of another human being, the practice is still widespread throughout most of the world.
In a compelling article that touches on ethics and current events, contributor Bill Butler raises the question - why, if two hundred years ago Briton and the United States outlawed human trafficking, are there more than 800,000 to 900,000 victims trafficked globally each year? According to the government 17,500 to 18,500 are trafficked into the United States. Women and children comprise the largest group of victims.
"When the average person hears the term slavery, he or she probably thinks of an era long gone, yet the shocking truth is that the slave trade is alive and well, said Butler. “An estimated 27 million struggle in slavelike conditions. "
President of Washington, D. C. -based Free the Slaves Kevin Bales is also a professor of sociology at Roehampton University in London, and considered the world's leading expert on contemporary slavery. His book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy has become a recognized manual on the subject.
In his interview about the causes of modern slavery with Butler, Bales offers his thoughts, as he has dedicated himself to combat what he refers to as “the terrible frozen face of ignorance and icy apathy of the public to the lot of an estimated 27 million slaves in the world. "
Butler identifies several organizations that are working on solutions to human trafficking. Compassionate, decent-minded people everywhere must stand behind those organized efforts to defeat this type of evil, but it will take more than human endeavor and government legislation to change the hearts of those who selfishly inflict so much suffering on the poor, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable.
The problem is a deep-seated spiritual one that has plagued human nature from the beginning of time and remains a current social issue problem. “Humans have always exploited other humans, " stated Butler. “Human nature is part of the problem, but the way people view their responsibility to any and all other human beings is a spiritual matter. "
Author, Kristin Gabriel, writes articles on current issues in society and culture for Vision Media. More information about these and other topics can be found at http://www.vision.org
The article is part of a special report running on http://www.vision.org this week that analyzes the current social issues surrounding the global human trafficking problem. The report features interviews with several experts on modern slavery and human trafficking as well as victims of the scourge. Butler interview one such victim, Beatrice Fernando, originally from Sri Lanka but now living in the United States. The 23-year-old woman was taken as a slave from her home to Lebanon, where her life became so unbearable that she leapt for freedom from a fourth-story Beirut balcony. Her long road of escape and return to a normal role in society was not an easy one. However she counts herself one of the lucky ones, because she understands that the vast majority is not so fortunate to escape.