Modern Slavery

It is only in recent years that awareness of modern slavery has been more in the public eye. Slavery did not end with William Wilberforce. It is probable that slavery exists in every country in the world. A slave is a person who is wholly subject to the will of another and has no freedom of action but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another. The 'owner' may sell and dispose of his person, of his industry and his labour without being able to do anything, have anything or acquire anything except what belongs to the owner.



Someone is a slave if:

  • They have no choice but to work by their owner. They are in this state because of powerlessness, fear, debt, manipulation and control.
  • They are bought and sold as if a commodity.
  • They have no control over their lives and find their existence depends wholly on the actions and control of their 'owner'.
  • They are subject to the will of their 'owner' through fear of physical or mental violence.
  • They are confined or restrained and have no freedom of movement.


Whilst each of these definitions stand alone many who find themselves in slavery are subject to more than one of the conditions above. It would be true to say that most people in Western nations think that slavery only happens 'overseas'. It is far more commonplace than they would realise. It may happen in their town, there neighbourhood or even their street without their knowledge. The image of long lines of Africans chained together and being shipped across the world into slavery is far from representative of modern slavery.


One of the biggest causes of modern slavery is poverty. Many communities are impoverished because of their race or religion which denies them education and employment. Poverty in modern cities can usually be found. These can be easily exploited. For example, by lending money at extortionate rates, people who have no ability to repay the loan can find themselves in bonded labour or used in the sex industry as an inducement to repay what they owe. In most cases the loan can never be repaid because the 'owner' withholds any payment.


Estimates of the number of people held in slavery vary considerably. Some statistics suggest that as many as 46 million people worldwide are held in slavery. The following statistics compiled by the International Labour Organisation although conservative, give an indication. (for example, some estimates for people forced into sexual exploitation are as high as 18 million)


  • 20.9 million people are in modern slavery across the world
  • 5.5 million children are in slavery across the world
  • 11.7 million people are in slavery in the Asia-Pacific region, mostly in bonded labour.
  • 3.7 million people are in slavery in Africa.
  • 1.6 million people are in slavery in Latin America.
  • 1.5 million people are in slavery in developed economies.
  • 14.2 million slavery victims are exploited in economic activities.
  • 4.5 million people are in forced into sexual exploitation.
  • 98% of people trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls.
  • 2.2 million people in slavery are exploited by governments.
  • US$ 150 billion - illegal profits forced labour in the private economy generates per year.


Wilberforce Two Trust is both committed and dedicated to work to see the abolition of slavery by any means possible. In his day William Wilberforce struggled and fought against impossible odds but the abolition of slavery in his day is his legacy. Help us to achieve a similar legacy in the 21st Century.


If you would like to be part of the fight then please consider a "donation or "regular giving". With the 'spirit of William Wilberforce' we can succeed.