More people are in slavery than ever before

Trapped: The UK abolished slavery in 1833. However, there are around 136,000 slaves alive in Britain today.

Can modern slavery be stopped? More than 40 million people around the world are living in some form of modern slavery, according to the latest figures. Around a quarter of these are children.

What’s happening

What do you think of when you hear the word “slavery”? Most people tend to think of the past. They might imagine people in chains being transported across the ocean, building pyramids or working on plantations in America. However, slavery has not gone away. In fact, it is bigger than ever.

Find out more

According to figures from the United Nations, 40.3 million people today are slaves. Ten million of these are children, and 71% are women and girls.

Slavery means anyone who is forced to work against their will; who has their freedom restricted; or who is bought and sold like property.

It comes in lots of different forms and is most common in Africa and Asia. There are slaves building the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There are slaves catching the seafood which is sold in supermarkets. There are slaves making cheap clothes for big fashion companies.

There are slaves living in the West too. Often they are migrants who have been promised a good job in a new country, only to be trapped in debt to their employers. Can it be stopped?

Some say…

Ending slavery will be almost impossible. It has been around for thousands of years; it was even mentioned in the Bible. It is now illegal in every country in the world, but this makes it very secretive. It also happens in many different ways, all over the world. That means eradicating it would be a huge, difficult and complicated task.

Others think…

It is possible if we try, although the whole world would need to get involved. This could mean boycotting products that are made by slaves; learning the signs of slavery and telling the police if you are worried about someone; and governments spending more money on finding and jailing slave owners. It will be hard — but nothing is impossible.

You Decide

  1. Should you boycott products (such as food or clothes) which you know are often made by slaves?


  1. Without looking it up in the dictionary, write your own definition for the word “slavery”.

Some People Say...

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.”

Abraham Lincoln

What do you think?

Word Watch

Triangular shaped buildings, often used as tombs in ancient Egypt.
A large farm which grows plants that are then sold for profit. (For example, tea or cotton.)
Something that is owned by someone.
A small, wealthy nation in the Middle East.
People who are living in a different country to the one they were born in.
Getting rid of.
Refusing to buy something for political reasons.


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