Slavery

Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit serving an enslaver, and is treated by the enslaver as property.[1] Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perform some form of work while also having their location or residence dictated by the enslaver. Many historical cases of enslavement occurred as a result of breaking the law, becoming indebted, or suffering a military defeat; other forms of slavery were instituted along demographic lines such as race. Slaves may be kept in bondage for life or for a fixed period of time, after which they would be granted freedom.[2] Although slavery is usually involuntary and involves coercion, there are also cases where people voluntarily enter into slavery to pay a debt or earn money due to poverty. In the course of human history, slavery was a typical feature of civilization,[3] and was legal in most societies, but it is now outlawed in most countries of the world, except as a punishment for a crime.[4][5]

Peter, a.k.a. Gordon, a slave from Louisiana, 1863. The scars are a result of a whipping by his overseer.

In chattel slavery, the slave is legally rendered the personal property (chattel) of the slave owner. In economics, the term de facto slavery describes the conditions of unfree labour and forced labour that most slaves endure.[6]

In 2019, approximately 40 million people, of whom 26 percent were children, were enslaved throughout the world despite it being illegal. In the modern world, more than 50 percent of slaves provide forced labour, usually in the factories and sweatshops of the private sector of a country's economy.[7] In industrialised countries, human trafficking is a modern variety of slavery; in non-industrialised countries, enslavement by debt bondage is a common form of enslaving a person,[6] such as captive domestic servants, forced marriage, and child soldiers.[8]


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