Modern Day Slavery

Kevin Bales, the author of Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World, said that thirty million people in the world today are enslaved; fifty thousand people in the United States are enslaved alone. These ‘employees’ are faced with in human working conditions and abuse supervisors, trapped into one occupation through the course of their lives. Most consumers are unaware of the trials laborers face to manufacture products the consumer uses everyday (Gneco).

In the twentieth century most people used touch screen electronics regardless of the brand, the minerals used in these electronics come from mines in the Eastern Congo. These mines are located in a country devastated by war and poverty. The war and the mines also devastate the environment. Kevin Bales talks about horrific conditions the laborers live in, in an interview with NPR (Not Public Radio). He says that many of the locals live underground in leftover tunnels the miners made, wearing very little clothing and usually walking around barefoot. The gangs that supervise the mines do not provide adequate protection to their employees to safeguard them from the natural consequences of mining. The tunnels often collapse, in jurying many laborers whom have no access to proper healthcare, exposed to cholera and numerous sexually transmitted infections (Gneco).

Slavery is legal in every country, however many impoverishment groups are tricked into slavery (whole generations are born into slavery). The gangs round up most people at gunpoint. However in the Congo they try to legalize enslavement through gift giving. Bales explains the legal system of slavery. Poor citizens are falsely accused of a misdemeanor and a judge will issue a fine higher than the accused possible means. A businessman would offer to pay the fine in exchange for labor. The citizen is forever indebted to the businessman and locked into the occupation. Men are taken as slaves for their exterior, meaning the work they can offer to the business. Women are exploited for their exterior as well as their interior. Not only are women used for their labor, but what they can offer sexually present day and their future offspring (Gneco).

Ghana has mines for gold, however the mining techniques are more analogous to ancient Rome than modern day technology. Bales says the only tools given to the miners are a picks and flashlight rubber banded to their heads to harvest the quartzite from the mines. After harvesting the quartzite, laborers need to grind the chips into a fine powder. In Ghana, the grinders suffer from acute and chronic Silicosis due to lack of protection. Those diagnosed with this condition are usually dead in less than eighteen months. The laborers are not provided healthcare. Some laborers do not even know they are being exploited because they were born into slavery. Villages in northern India are hereditary slaves, all working in the same quarries. The people have not experienced proper healthcare are and education system. Organizations, like Free the Slave, work to educate enslaved populations about freedom and encourage them to demand to be released (Gneco). 

Conflict Minerals MM8226
Miners eating lunch from a communal bowl, Marcus Bleasdale
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