Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation. Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by many societies; in more recent times slavery has been outlawed in most societies but continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage. There are more slaves in the early 21st century than at any previous time but opponents hope slavery can be eradicated within 30 years.
Slavery predates written records and has existed in many cultures. The number of slaves today remains as high as 12 million to 27 million. Most are debt slaves, largely in South Asia, who are under debt bondage incurred by lenders, sometimes even for generations. Human trafficking is primarily used for forcing women and children into sex industries.
In pre-industrial societies, slaves and their labour were economically extremely important. Slaves and serfs made up around three-quarters of the world's population at the beginning of the 19th century.
In modern mechanised societies, there is less need for sheer massive manpower; Norbert Wiener wrote that "mechanical labor has most of the economic properties of slave labor, though ... it does not involve the direct demoralizing effects of human cruelty."
Famous quotes containing the word slavery:
“The parallel between antifeminism and race prejudice is striking. The same underlying motives appear to be at work, namely fear, jealousy, feelings of insecurity, fear of economic competition, guilt feelings, and the like. Many of the leaders of the feminist movement in the nineteenth-century United States clearly understood the similarity of the motives at work in antifeminism and race discrimination and associated themselves with the anti slavery movement.”
—Ashley Montagu (b. 1905)
“He was discontented and wasted his life into the bargain; and yet he rated it as a gain in coming to America, that here you could get tea, and coffee, and meat every day. But the only true America is that country where you are at liberty to pursue such a mode of life as may enable you to do without these, and where the state does not endeavor to compel you to sustain slavery and war and other superfluous expenses which directly or indirectly result from the use of such things.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“To depend upon a profession is a less odious form of slavery than to depend upon a father.”
—Virginia Woolf (18821941)