Bray People

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TY students investigate slavery


A trio of Transition Year students from Presentation College in Bray were shocked and angry when they learned about worldwide slavery.

Patryk Labuzek, Andrew Dore and Conor Davenpart were part of a group to produce a mural on the topic, and have shared their thoughts on what they learned.

27 million people are enslaved around our globe.

When is enough enough? 50 million? 100 million? Do you even care?

Right now humans are being oppressed through trafficking, debt bondage, illegal contract labour and prostitution.

Globally there are people starving so you can eat, exhausted so you can drive and dying so you can live as you do.

There are slaves involved in brick making, mining, prostitution, gem working and more.

Here, from the luxury of our first world existence, we don't see the wounds inflicted on others as a result of our actions. Maybe we just don't want to see them.

We fool ourselves into thinking there are no slaves in the developed world, but we are blind. We are surrounded by slaves, even here in Ireland.

The statistics are horrifying. 800,000 human beings will be kidnapped and trafficked this year. 80 per cent of these will be female and 50 per cent will be children.

Many of these will be sold into the sex trade. In fact, the 27 million people who are enslaved at this very moment represent the greatest number of people to have ever lived in slavery.

Why is slavery thriving? Should we blame the slave masters, pimps, traffickers or the society in which we live - the target market? If we don't demand, they won't supply.

There is a common greed ridden thread emerging in our world today best characterised as a ferocious search for cheaper goods and services.

Consumers want cheaper products and businesses want to make more profit. This makes sense. But at what point does the cheapest product and the biggest profit affect human dignity? The 'cheapest source' may involve the enslavement of human beings.

The most prevalent and probably least known form of slavery is Debt Bondage. This is where a person becomes enslaved as repayment for a small loan, often only about the equivalent of €10 or €20.

This loan may have been to pay for basic medical care not freely available, funeral or wedding arrangements. The borrower is trapped into working for little or no pay, often for seven days a week.

Slavery is a problem that we can all help to prevent in our day-to-day lives. Next time you go into a shop ask yourself, where does this come from? Why is this so cheap? Be sure to buy fair-trade products whenever possible.

However, governments can help on a larger scale by ensuring that regular migration routes and open job opportunities are made available in their countries.

People who were trafficked should not be treated as criminals for committing immigration offences by having false documents, and should be supported and protected in the aftermath of their trauma. These people are victims, not criminals.

The elimination of poverty, encouraging education and social protection as well as small-scale programs for liberation and rehabilitation can also help combat the problem.

It is our responsibility to make noise about these issues. By making noise we may be heard by those who have the power and capacity to make economic, legislative, political and ethical changes.