Modern slavery

When we talk about slavery, many of us think about ancient Egypt and Greece, or the transatlantic slave trade. Slavery is often considered to be a thing of the past.

Slavery was abolished in Europe in 1833 and in the US in 1865. Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights insists: “No one shall be held in slavery”.

But despite this, slavery still exists today. Modern slavery is different from historical slave trades, in which people were rounded up and traded like objects. Today, slavery is a situation where someone is taken advantage of and cannot escape. This could be forced labour or being made to work for so little money that you have no freedom.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are more than 40 million victims of slavery worldwide. One in four of these is a child, forced to work for little or no money. Many have to work with toxic substances or operate dangerous machinery.

Girls and women are the worst affected. Nearly 60% of the victims of forced labour are women and, every year, 12 million girls enter into child marriages.

This Wednesday 2 December is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a time to raise awareness about modern slavery.

How can you get involved?

Read Our Story


This week’s tailor-made assembly slides explore the topic of modern slavery, child labour and forced marriage. Ready to use with videos, images and teacher notes, the assembly looks at the impact of slavery and the movements working to abolish it forever.


  1. Make a timeline showing the history of slavery up to the modern day.
  2. Read the four true stories in this report. Imagine you are one of the children forced to work and write a diary entry about your day.