Slavery makes us “un-dignified” because it takes way everyone’s dignity, Francis says in his International Day for the Abolition of Slavery message
The pope has often made it a point to speak out regularly against modern day slavery.
During an online seminar organized by the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina to observe the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons celebrated on 30 July 2020, Pope Francis in his message described modern-day slavery as “a scourge that wounds the dignity of our weakest brothers and sisters”. He said our contemporary world is “sadly marked by a utilitarian perspective that views others according to the criteria of convenience and personal gain.”
In 2018, the pope described modern day slavery as a crime against humanity and called for everyone to be made aware of the extent of the problem and the suffering it causes. In 2014, Pope Francis joined 12 other religious leaders at the Vatican where they pledged to use their religions to end human trafficking and slavery.
The pope said modern slavery was “an atrocious plague.”
The joint declaration stated: “Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.”
International Day for the Abolition of Slavery raises awareness and reinforces global efforts in combatting the scourge of modern slavery that include forced labor, sexual exploitation, child labor, debt bondage, forced marriages, human trafficking, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of different forms of modern slavery.In addition, more than 150 million children are subject to child labor. This represents almost one in every ten children around the world.
Findings from UN human rights bodies indicate that some forms of slavery are the result of long-standing discrimination against vulnerable groups in societies – many of them considered to be of low castes, tribal minorities and indigenous peoples. These people are trafficked for economic exploitation and include migrant workers, those who work in domestic servitude, and workers in the construction industry, the food and garment industry, and the agricultural sector.
UN human rights bodies have also highlighted children used for economic exploitation. Such exploitation deprives them of their childhood or their right to education or being put in situations that can be harmful to the child’s health and mental and social development.