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Modern slavery
Modern slavery

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1 What is (modern) slavery?

The term ‘modern slavery’ is used in two ways:

  1. It is used to distinguish two types of slavery: slavery in the twenty-first century and historical examples of slavery, such as the transatlantic slave trade.
  2. It describes various forms of slavery that have become prominent in contemporary times, such as THB. This highlights the changing and varied forms of slavery.

Before considering the modern forms of slavery, it is useful to learn about and reflect on the historical perspectives on slavery and its abolition.

Activity 1 Slavery vs freedom

In your own words, how would you define slavery? What, in your opinion, are the key elements characterising slavery? In contrast, how would you define freedom?

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Your answers to these questions may vary, depending on your personal view. However, despite the changes in forms of slavery over the centuries, the overarching concept of it remains the same. Slavery – whether historical or modern day – has certain key elements. The concept of slavery rests primarily on the notion of exercising powers of ownership and control over another person. It is also linked to the restriction of freedom of movement and forced labour.

Generally, freedom means an ability to do something without any restrictions being imposed. Freedom may relate to various entitlements to do something, e.g. freedom of movement or freedom of expression.