Nearly 36 million men, women and children are living in modern slavery worldwide in 2014, according to the second edition of Walk Free’s Global Slavery Index (GSI) describing modern slavery as a “hidden crime” and “big business.” The organisation defined modern slavery as the deprivation of individual liberty for the purpose of exploitation. This broad definition includes many slavery-related practices such as human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, commercial sexual exploitation and the sale and exploitation of children.
The survey has showen that modern slavery exists throughout each of the 167 surveyed countries. Accordingly India –the world’s largest democracy – has with 14 million out of a 1.2 billion population the highest number of enslaved people in the world, followed by China (3.2 million), Pakistan (2.1 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million), Russia (1.05 million), Nigeria (834,200), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (762,900), Indonesia (714,100), Bangladesh (680,900) and Thailand (475,300). Taken together, these 10 countries account for 71 percent of the total estimated 35.8 million people living in modern slavery these days. The highest estimated prevalence of modern slavery as a proportion of population exists in Mauritania. Also Europe has its share in modern slavery with 566,000 people, led by Turkey on the top with 185,500 people. At the same time these numbers prove that slavery has little to do with poverty.
The ever-increasing mass dehumanization of millions of people, mostly women and children, facing economic, physical and sexual exploitation, is the outcome of the capitalist ideology. This ideology through its man-made ‘high’ values of ‘economic success’ and ‘profit’ has produced selfish and exploitative rulers, employers and rich minorities obsessed with turning this world into paradise for themselves, while setting other people, their rights and lives and any true values at naught. In contrast with capitalism, the ideology of Islam is not man-made, but revealed by Allah the Creator of the worlds. Islam aims at the prevention of tyranny in any form, including the eradication of the enslavement of individuals. Allah’s Messenger Muhammed صلى الله عليه وسلم for example said:
«ثَلَاثَةٌ أَنَا خَصْمُهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، رَجُلٌ أَعْطَى بِي ثُمَّ غَدَرَ، وَرَجُلٌ بَاعَ حُرًّا فَأَكَلَ ثَمَنَهُ، وَرَجُلٌ اسْتَأْجَرَ أَجِيرًا فَاسْتَوْفَى مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُعْطِ أَجْرَهُ»
“There are three people whom I will oppose on the Day of Resurrection: a man who gives his word by Me but proves treacherous; a man who sells a free person and consumes the price; and a man who employs a worker and receives a completed job but he does not pay him his wages.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Number 430)
Islam’s understanding of economy and therefore its economic policies aim at the effective distribution of wealth, so that the basic needs of all individuals are fulfilled, while at the same time every person is also enabled to efford for luxury goods. Adultery and prostitution and especially forced prostitution are to be penalized heavily, which deters those who think to gain profit through sexually exploiting women and children. Islam motivates Muslims to take care of the people around them, being close or far relatives, neighbours or anyone else, and also forces the state to close the debts of a person who is not able to do so anymore. These and more principles of Islam in tackling poverty and any form of oppression, including slavery are time-tested and organized in a manner to provide the peace and justice again in any place of the world at any time – as soon as implemented again in the form of the Khilafah State.
Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by