If the Slave Trade Was Abolished, Why Do an Estimated 40 Million Still Live in Slavery?
March 25 was International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Churches of Scientology mark this day by raising awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And with good reason.
An estimated 13 million people were captured and sold as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade between the 15th and 19th centuries. But the United Nations estimates some 40 million live in slavery today.
According to Dr. Katarina Schwarz, associate director of the Rights Lab’s Law and Policy Programme at the University of Nottingham, England, 94 of the 193 UN member states appear not to have made slavery a crime. Schwartz published an article co-written by Jean Allain, professor of international law at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia; and Andrea Nicholson, Nottingham Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham; on the state of human trafficking, based on research compiled by the Antislavery in Domestic Legislation Database.
They found that although 96 percent of all UN Member Nations have some form of domestic anti-trafficking legislation:
- 94 states do not have legislation prohibiting slavery.
- 112 states do not have penal provisions punishing forced labor
- 170 have not criminalized institutions and practices similar to slavery
- 180 have not enacted legislation criminalizing servitude.
- In all these countries, there is no criminal law to punish those subjecting others to extreme forms of human exploitation.
In 1969, Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard observed: “Very few governments have implemented any part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These governments have not grasped that their very survival depends utterly upon adopting such reforms and thus giving their peoples a cause, a civilization worth supporting, worth their patriotism.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 4 states, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
But as Mr. Hubbard also pointed out, “Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream,” a statement borne out by these Antislavery in Domestic Legislation Database statistics.
Scientologists believe that raising awareness of human rights is the ultimate answer to this and other forms of abuse. They take part in educational initiatives to increase understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They work to mandate human rights education in their nations’ schools. And they urge their governments to enact legislation to ensure the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have the force of law.
The Scientology Network features the work of human rights activists who have adopted these programs to end human trafficking and other abuse. Their work, and the inroads they have made, is demonstrated in episodes of the original TV series Voices for Humanity.
- Mary Shuttleworth, who witnessed rampant human rights abuses growing up in apartheid South Africa. Committed to ending human trafficking and other violations of human rights, she founded Youth for Human Rights International to teach young people around the world the importance of human rights.
- Cynthia Guerra, who grew up in Guatemala during a civil war that was notorious for rampant human rights violations carried out by its military. An estimated 20 percent of Guatemalan children, some as young as seven, are subject to forced labor. To counter this and other human rights abuses, Guerra leads a nationwide program to educate civilians, police, and the military on human rights.
- Braulio Vargas, whose episode exposes a hidden side of Costa Rica with an eye-opening account of the problems plaguing many of its citizens — from human trafficking to homelessness. His work in promoting human rights is raising awareness across the nation.
- Raúl Arias, who came face to face with human rights violations when he and a friend were nearly abducted by kidnappers. Later, heartbroken by the stories of those who lost family members to human trafficking, he confronted the issue head-on by becoming executive director of Youth for Human Rights Mexico.
The Church of Scientology and its members sponsor one of the world’s broadest human rights education and public information initiatives, United for Human Rights, and its program for young people, Youth for Human Rights. Through this support, they ensure these educational materials are available free of charge to all.
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
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