Human Rights and Slavery
What are Human Rights?
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of gender, nationality, place of residency, sex, ethnicity, religion, color or and other categorization. Thus, human rights are non-discriminatory, meaning that all human beings are entitled to them and cannot be excluded from them. Of course, while all human beings are entitled to human rights, not all human beings experience them equally throughout the world. Many governments and individuals ignore human rights and grossly exploit other human beings.
There are a variety of human rights, including:
- Civil rights (such as the rights to life, liberty and security),
- Political rights (like rights to the protection of the law and equality before the law),
- Economic rights (including rights to work, to own property and to receive equal pay),
- Social rights (like rights to education and consenting marriages),
- Cultural rights (including the right to freely participate in their cultural community), and
- Collective rights (like the right to self-determination).
Slavery is a Violation of Human Rights
Slavery, forced labor and human trafficking are violations of human rights because these acts strip human beings of their inherent rights. In fact, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly references slavery, stating in Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Slavers and human traffickers grossly violate human rights since they claim ownership, labor and/or the humanity of another human being. The human rights most relevant to trafficking are:
- The prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;
- The right to life;
- The right to liberty and security;
- The right not to be submitted to slavery, servitude, forced labor or bonded labor;
- The right not to be subjected to torture and/or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment;
- The right to be free from gendered violence;
- The right to freedom of association;
- The right to freedom of movement;
- The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
- The right to just and favorable conditions of work;
- The right to an adequate standard of living;
- The right to social security; and
- The right of children to special protection.
Human Rights for Women and Girls
Many organizations and governments worldwide focus on improving the status of women and girls. According to the International Labour Organization, 11.4 million women and girls are victims of forced labor in different forms – including debt bondage, trafficking and forced prostitution. As global leaders seek to improve the status of women and girls, it’s critical to focus on decreasing women and girls’ exploitation in forced labor, trafficking and slavery.
When women and girls are enslaved or trafficked, they do not have access to programs aimed at women’s equality and development.
- Trafficked and enslaved women and girls oftentimes do not attend school. Many times these women and girls are illiterate.
- Trafficked and enslaved women and girls face gross sexual violence, whether in forced prostitution, forced marriage or during forced physical labor.
- Trafficked and enslaved women and girls are subject to domestic violence.
- Trafficked and enslaved women and girls do not have access to reproductive and maternal health. The physical and sexual abuse of their exploitation leads to many early pregnancies, forced abortions and exposure to HIV and other diseases.
- Trafficked and enslaved women and girls do not have access to healthcare.
- Trafficked and enslaved women and girls often face critical malnutrition.
- Trafficked and enslaved women and girls do not have access to anti-poverty programs, micro-loans or other economic development initiatives, leaving them dependent on their exploiters.