Did you know that there are more slaves in the world today, than there have ever been before in History?
On this day, in 1807, the slave trade was abolished.
The success of the abolitionists came from their hard work in raising awareness of the realities of the slave trade, and obtaining public support for their cause.
The members of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade collected evidence, gave lectures, petitioned Parliament and distributed information flyers.
This society of advocates concentrated on a campaign to persuade Parliament to prohibit the trading in slaves, taking a strategic approach,where instead of demanding the abolition of slavery throughout the empire altogether, they targeted the trade of slaves instead.
Their tactic paid off, and it was today, the 26 March in 1807 that the law passed both Houses, and the Atlantic Slave Trade became illegal.
The first breakthrough came when James Stephen wrote a bill that was passed, banning involvement in the Slave Trade with France. The effect of Stephen’s 1806 Act was to reduce the trade by two-thirds, paving the way for the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in February 1807.
The abolitionists had assumed that ending the Slave Trade would eventually lead to the freeing of all enslaved people. When it became clear this would not happen, Clarkson joined with Thomas Fowell Buxton in 1823, to form ‘the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery’, later called the Anti-Slavery Society.
At first the aim was for gradual abolition through this law.
In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, the abolitionists, particularly women’s groups, organized letter-writing campaigns, petition drives and sugar boycotts.
Slavery should have never existed.
What’s more shocking, is that there are more slaves in the world today, than there have ever been before in History.
According to the Global Slavery Index, there are currently 35.8 million known slaves in the world today.
In 2014, almost two-thirds – 65.8% – of the estimated 35.8 million people in modern slavery globally are in the Asia Pacific region. In our region.
Modern slavery exists in the Asia Pacific region in all its forms, including forced labour, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and forced marriage.
Today, 208 years after the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the UK, the UK Parliament is expected to give the Modern Slavery Act Royal Assent.
The Modern Slavery Act seeks (amongst other things) to;
- Coordinate all human trafficking offences into this one Act,
- Apply a maximum jail sentence for traffickers to life in prison,
- Give the authorities the power to seize trafficker’s assets,
- Force traffickers to pay compensation to all of their victims,
- Strengthened and bring in line standards with existing international law, and
- Ensure that cross-border trafficking cases can be easily prosecuted.
One of the strengths of the Bill is that it omits the liability for those who benefit from slavery.
Fighting for Justice Foundation commends the great work of the UK Parliament, and all the advocates involved in ensuring such legislation is passed.
Of course, enforcement and education are to follow, to ensure it’s success.
This is a great step towards sending a clear message to traffickers, that, they are not only doing something that is criminal, but they are required to pay compensation for the trauma, abuse and loss of life that they have caused to their victims.
Of course, compensation alone will not ensure full rehabilitation of trafficking and slavery victims, but it is a step in the right direction. A direction in which Australia should also head.
Just as it did in the 19th Century, change has to come from various sources of advocacy, slowly implementing different standards in society, through education, the changing of laws, and societal expectations.
This can only take place in collaboration.
Be a part of the move today.