Slavery: A 21st Century Evil

Slavery: A 21st Century Evil

Ratings: 7.94/10 from 33 users.

Slavery: A 21st Century EvilStepping into the lives of men and women who until recently were slaves demands the softest of treads.

The experience of being enslaved - forced to work for no pay, often under the threat of violence and with no hope of escape, burns deep and leaves wounds which take a long time to heal.

From impoverished and often illiterate Thai farmers to women forced into prostitution; from men tricked into servitude in Brazil's brutal charcoal industry to entire families trapped as bonded labourers in Pakistan's feudal brick kilns; we met and filmed dozens of slaves for this series.

Food Chain Slaves. It is a nation built on the abolition of slavery, but there are at least 40,000 slaves in the US today. In the opening episode of Slavery: A 21st Century Evil, Al Jazeera's Rageh Omaar investigates food chain slavery in the US.

Sex slaves. There are an estimated 1.4 million sex slaves in the world today and international trafficking is on the rise.

Bonded Slaves. It is a form of slavery that is passed down from one generation to the next, enslaving millions.

Child Slaves. There are at least 8.4 million child slaves in the world today, many of them held as forced labour.

Charcoal Slaves. Poverty-stricken men from the north of Brazil are often lured to remote camps where they are used as slave labour.

Bridal Slaves. In the midst of widespread poverty, fueled by economic inequality and rampant corruption, a new form of slavery - bridal slavery - has flourished in India. Women and young girls are sold for as little as $120 to men who often abuse them.

Prison Slaves. Over the past 20 years China has become the world's biggest exporter of consumer goods. But behind this apparent success story is a dark secret - millions of men and women locked up in prisons and forced into intensive manual labour.

Bonus: Al Jazeera slavery debate. Luis C d'Baca from the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves; David Batstone, president of Not for Sale; and Joy Ezeilo, UN Special Rapporteur for Trafficking in Persons.

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61 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Toni

    Motti Orian's charges were dropped. How is that? And what now?

  2. Andrew

    This is incredible.
    I thought only African Americans were slaves.

  3. Jasmin-Farah Pillay

    So essentially these Thai people paid Global for the honour of working there and were never paid? This is beyond evil :o(

  4. Annie Stone

    it's not right to have slaves, even if you treat them kindly

    1. docoman

      What if they were Japanese slaves? You did say " nuked until the really receive the message. The message being, we don't want you on the planet.", and " The Japanese are trash."
      I also recall you saying atheists are bad (because they don't like christmas).
      Check your scriptures Annie, Leviticus 25:44-46 for starters. It says you can have slaves from the nations around you, and the strangers in your land.
      Is the Bible correct or not?
      I agree with your statement here, not the other stuff you've said earlier, or what the Bible says.

    2. jaberwokky


    3. docoman


    4. Jon

      Moses started off on the wrong foot. His was never mission accomplished. Scriptures grew in size for the same reason. Israel was wayward and a slave to disobedience. The Jews resented Israel and broke off with the family that Solomon the wise left.

      But the story of Israel began with Moses liberating slaves from Egypt. Slavery happened for a reason. The cause was not only due to Israel posing as a threat to Egypt. I think slavery was also the outcome of treachery by jealous brothers who sold the father's favorite son, Joseph, to slavery.

      From hindsight, God protected Joseph the dreamer and he became governor of Egypt. Joseph was given the Pharaohs' ring to mange his kingdom. Thus Egypt adopted the persecuted son as its own. Then the tables turned when Egyptians made slaves out of the tribes who failed to assimilate into the culture.

      Thus the Bible story was never about what the other brothers thought has happened. The story did not end happily ever after when the family of Jacob escaped famine. The sins of Israel bore fruit, and the curse lasted for several generations. It was at the lowest moment of Israel that Moses came to the rescue.

      When Moses gave the Law to Israel, he had to remind the people to let their own lives and experiences be their guide. He then gave the nation of Israel a choice between a blessing and a curse patterned after the Law which gives knowledge and life. The Law also reminds them to treat Egyptians as their brother - since in a way Joseph their brother became a prominent Egyptian too.

    5. david

      That's the Jew Bible ? It was a Jew who enslaved these Thai in the first place . Scum of the earth -- Don't blame God for your own shortcomings . People want cheap without caring where it comes from .

    6. jaberwokky

      It's not right to call the Japanese nasty trash and wish for them to be nuked again either. It didn't stop you though, did it?

  5. Andrew

    Excellent documentary. It was very well made. A real eye opener on the Human Trafficking that is taking place in our world today. Its absolutely unbelievable that people are subjected to something so terrible and deprived of their human rights.

  6. John Weissmuller

    Portugal were also the first country in Europe to abolish the death penalty.

  7. ya mum

    Does anybody know how I would be able to contact the Thai man at 22:48?

  8. Sara tayeb

    WOW. this world sucks.

  9. David Foster

    Funny... Slavery WAS industry up until the industrial revolution. Waddaya gonna do when ya runs out of oil?

  10. Woodat

    PORTUGAL was the first country in Europe to abolish slavery, 100 years before the United States
    In fact, Portugal was also the first country in Europe to abolish the DEATH PENALTY !

    1. PJSWNY

      Portugal was also the very first country to decimate Africa and utilize Africans as slaves. No country is immune, that's for sure, we can all agree that slavery sucks.

    2. Woodat

      'first to decimate Africa' ?? -Where did you get that ?! Why can't you accept Historical FACT, that the Portuguese were the first in the WORLD to abolish slavery and the first in EUROPE to abolish the death penalty ?! Facts bother you ?! -Strange ! -Being those two 'first' I think tells us or should tell us a lot about the Portuguese as a people so why do you resent it ?!

    3. Woodat

      You are 99% correct.

      Portugal was the FIRST country in the WORLD to abolish slavery; not only the first in Europe !

    4. Annie Stone

      who cares about portugal?

    5. jackmax

      That very Christian of you Annie....

  11. Erick Ouellette

    em from the previous post, your talking about chain gangs and license plate makers right? You may be in prison but your guaranteed 3 squares a day, a shower and a bed to sleep in. Not everyone gets that opportunity in the working world, some restitution should be paid back.

  12. PavolvsBitch

    I notice that this series draws attention to 'other' forms of slavery whilst ignoring the very very recent history of Western peoples horrific abuse which was cosmetically concealed after WW11 for the brief 45 years until the current era. That was only because the wage slaves were financing the growth of one huge gulag that we are now entering where everyone is a sex/labour slave.

  13. Karebear

    the thing is is that the south was hit very hard when the economy took a downturn and even here in america in the south many girl are being pimped w the same awful tactics many children are working under the table coal mining and stuff like that are the only descent jobs its time people pay attention cause im watching a generation of children who will die or go to prison trying to eat

  14. Kim Scott Bruce

    dufas_duck hits the nail on the head. Al Jazeera wouldn't dare mention the Islamic slave trade, the largest in the world and cause of much misery that goes unnoticed and unheard in the MSM. That would be too PC.

    1. tropical52

      Right on ...what happened to Al Jazeera omitting their culpability

    2. Reo

      Al Jazeera, very well done. It is great to open eyes on this all. However, try and work on the bias you undoubtedly have, and talk as well about all slavery and hypocrisy generated by people preaching Islam. Shall we talk about Indonesian maids serving in luxury houses from the Gulf, and the way they are treated ? shall we talk about women that are purchased for satisfying repressed sexual needs ?

  15. dufas_duck


    I notice that the slavery views of Muslims is conspicuously absent.. Could it be that Al Jazeera is somewhat biased, Sharia law and other things along those lines may influence their view point somewhat...

  16. Matt van den Ham

    This is a shitty situation, and they were ripped off, but it's not slavery. If the definition of slavery is forced work without pay then most of us in north america are slaves. What happens if I don't go to work? I can't pay for food and shelter, and it's illegal to not pay your taxes. They say 'oh we didn't have any food, lived in a container, one bathroom" etc etc...well you know what, I've had to go with out food, electricity etc when I was out of work, and you don't see any documentaries on regular people like me. And you know what's a worse feeling, working as hard and as long as possible in this society and you still can't make ends-meet. Most of these 'third world' countries that we are told to show compassion to and not our 'rich-selves' have a lot more freedoms than we do. What is freedom? Free to think and act on your own terms. Most people in North America do not truly think-freely, they are mentally confined with the huge amount of societal rules and the evils that come with greed/money. From kindergarten up we are told how to think and behave, and we also have the most cruel punishments, such as imprisonment and life-long debts.

    And slaves from the past were committed to indentured servitude, which means they could work for someone for a few years and then usually be granted some property, to which they would start their own farms and have workers. And they had more leisure time and family time back then too. They make slavery look like the most brutal horror movie imaginable, but if you think about it, if you were the 'slave-driver' or 'master', you would see your slaves as cattle, meaning you'd want to keep them in good working condition i.e. well fed etc, And they would only punish when absolutely necessary.

    Look at students in north america, they take out life-long debts on student loans and are pretty much forced to get in the work force to pay it off. A mortgage is a form of slavery. The truth is, north Americans are more enslaved (psychologically/mentally) than most people of the world. Debt/mortgages are the purest form enslavement.

  17. dufas_duck

    While there are true slave problems in the world and these should be addressed, some people are thinking a little too hard and coming up with conclusions that either defy logic or are a stealth argument for The Venus project where everyone gets life handed to them on a silver platter. [Someone else always does the work...which still becomes slavery]

    I guess that Al Jazeera’s Rageh Omaar gets everything handed to him. Good for him, don't do anything and you won't be a slave. I wonder if his cameraman or sound man could be considered as a slave?? Yet, the one's handing everything to anyone then becomes the slave to the one taking. How is one to get anything for free without making slaves out of those who work and supply those goods?

    Governments that tax are creating slaves of the population. Government workers are the masters and the private citizenry are the slaves.

    If one is a slave for working for someone else, either don't work or start one's own business..but then, one becomes a slave to their own business.. People that own their homes then become a slave to their home. Taken to the Nth degree, people that have partners are a slave to that partner.

    The logic presented in the first documentary could extend to anyone that purchases anything, clothes, food, etc, etc, is supporting slavery. The concept of community would have to disappear. One becomes a slave to the community. The thing to do is boycott everything. Do not make any purchases, do not work, do not acquire anything. The perfect person would be homeless, completely naked, natural, alone, and live in the wild munching on whatever he/she could find.

    Sounds like the concept of 'other people's money' [or work] is being pushed a little harder each day. Do you want to be a giver, IE, slave, or a taker, IE, master???

  18. phillip wong

    Like the US don 't have debt slaves

    1. dufas_duck

      Then don't go into debt...

  19. Enigma

    99% of civilization are slaves

    1. Dw Neeks

      And you are 100% right!!
      It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison, and yet not free - to be under no physical constraint and yet to be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within the nation, wants him to think, feel and act. The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people. His servitude is strictly objective.

      Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley, 1958

    2. clazy8

      Interesting quote. It's the philosophy of a man unwilling to take responsibility for his actions, unwilling to face their consequences, and unwilling to acknowledge the existential constraints that limit his imagination's influence in the world. In his resentment, he calls this natural state "slavery". "His servitude is strictly objective." Oh? How would he know, being himself nothing more than a subject. In fact this "servitude" is strictly subjective. He does not like his choices, therefore he is a slave. Pathetic. Self-indulgent nonsense. Huxley should have stuck with fiction.

    3. clazy8

      One more thing. It's no wonder Huxley appealed to the 60s generation -- this is the guy who wrote The Doors of Perception, an account of his experiments with mescaline, and inspiration for countless acid trips. He took his title from Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, but it looks as though he had preferred a divorce.

    4. Jack1952

      Aldous Huxley wrote it. Must be true then. An ideologue rambling about life. Nothing substantial.

    5. Jack1952

      Survival is slavery using your understanding of the word. All living things are slaves to what they must do to live another day. You distort the true meaning of the word.

    6. Enigma

      I never mentioned "Survival". You need to read more attentively.
      Now shut the F-up, twit.

    7. Jack1952

      A very mature response. I will do as you ordered, however. I am a slave to your commands, my master.

  20. phillip wong

    come on.. So the US don 't have prison slavery? Really?

    1. Jack1952

      Every country in the world has prisons. Why specifically identify the United States? Your post has an obvious political agenda.

    2. phillip wong

      The documentary did not say anything about American using prison labor, while there obviously is.

    3. Jack1952

      I am not from the United States so it is not obvious to me. If you are to make such a claim you should elaborate by giving a specific example and provide evidence of your allegation. Otherwise, I cannot accept your accusation as fact. How can I, given I have nothing that proves the veracity of your claim.

  21. arifkarim

    Ok, it was a nice Doc, but something I missed is the fact that they think if you PAY somebody with money for the work, then you are not a slave. How come one can think like that? Most of us who are regular income earners are heavily indebted to various financial sharks who are eager to take your home, your car, your whole livelihood and savings at once you stop paying their monthly installments! I mean, this is the worst form of modern slavery and terror the world has ever encounter. Masses of people, even in the so-called civilized world are kept in control by the same debt-work-pay-mechanism. Nobody even dares to challenge the system, not even the politicians because these financial sharks are too big to fail... I mean... what the hell is going on?!

    1. clazy8

      Arifkarim, it's a bit of a stretch to call indebtedness "slavery", particularly when the debt is not necessary. And it's silly to call it "the worst" contemporary form of slavery -- if that were so, we could say slavery had been eliminated. The idea insults real slaves, people whose freedom has been stolen, people who are treated like livestock. There are few circumstances in the western world in which unmanageable indebtedness cannot easily be avoided by spending no more than you earn. A person can live quite well without a large-screen tv, a new car, an x-box, vacations abroad, dining out, the latest fashions and all the other things people buy on credit. That debt is a choice. "Nobody even dares to challenge the system"? They ARE the system. A bank offered them a loan, and they said, sure, I'll take your money, and I'll promise to pay you back. If you want to challenge the system, don't participate in it. That simple.

    2. robertallen1

      You seem to have a firm grasp on the situation which is why I would like to run an idea of mine by you.

      As you know, many people lose their property if the breadwinner dies before the debts are paid off. To prevent this, I propose a small mandatory fee be added, perhaps to the loan payments, to buy insurance against this, whereby upon the death of the breadwinner, the remainder of the loans is guaranteed. Perhaps something's already in place; I really don't know, but it seems that both lender and borrower would benefit from this.

      I would appreciate your thoughts.

    3. Jack1952

      I couldn't get a mortgage without getting insurance. I don't know about the States but here in Canada I think most mortgage brokers insist on it.

    4. robertallen1

      Had mortage bankers here insisted on it, we might not have needed the bailout of a few years back--as a matter fact, I don't think we ever needed it.

      But is it law in Canada?

    5. Jack1952

      I don't think that it is the law in Canada but I the mortgage company that held my mortgage insisted I get a life insurance policy that would guarantee full payment if I had passed away. It also included an insurance that would make payments if I were severely injured or became ill until I was able to make payments on my own. There were restrictions involved, of course but the life insurance is guaranteed. I know of people whose mortgage was paid off when their spouse died.

      A person can still lose their home if they find themselves suddenly unemployed or underemployed. No one is about to give you a home, even is Canada.

      The mortgage crisis in the States was caused by greedy mortgage brokers who would give anyone a mortgage so they could collect the commission. People would buy a home that was way above their means. The brokers and bankers would sell those bad loans, as one unit, convincing the buyers that it was a good investments and collect another commission. This step would then be repeated over and over. In the end there were people who had no idea who held their mortgage. This type of investing is illegal in Canada and we did not have the banking crisis in Canada that the States did. Bankers in the States didn't care if they were making bad investments or not or whether their institution would go bankrupt. They only wanted the bonuses that these investments would give them. Not illegal in the States but highly unethical. There were banks who had strict guidelines concerning loans and did not take part in these types of investments. They were also not eligible for the bailout money the government offered. Only those motivated by pure greed were rewarded for their unethical practices. The most egregious of them were allowed to fail.

    6. robertallen1

      With restrictions and conditions, it might be nice to have some type of insurance in case of unemployment or underemployment. For example, if at the time a person loses his job, he has only a few more payments left on his house, this insurance would prevent foreclosure on a property which he has spent a considerable portion of his life paying for. Your thoughts.

    7. Jack1952

      I don't think that there is an unemployment insurance guaranteeing mortgage payments. The government is only institution that I know of that offers any kind of unemployment insurance.I know of one individual who lost his job and eventually his home. He had owned the home for eleven years. The bank, however, was quite accommodating and did everything possible to help the guy keep his home but in the end was forced to foreclose. This guy has nothing but good things to say about how the bank handled the situation, Even the bank cannot be expected to give you property. They lend you the money to make it possible and it is a person's responsibility to pay it back. The banks, as an institution, don't want anyone to default on a loan. That is bad business. The bank failures in the States prove this.

      Owning your own home is as much a privilege as it is a right. Everyone has the right for the opportunity to own a home. The privilege is earned through ones efforts. Everyone should have the right to decent housing and the opportunity to buy that dwelling if possible.

      No bank or lending institution went bankrupt in Canada during the banking crisis. In fact they were all making money. The American crisis was totally unnecessary.

    8. robertallen1

      You're right, owning your own home (read taking out a loan) is a responsibility which is one of the reasons I've always rented, thereby limiting my responsibility to basically paying the rent. Paying into something for a long period of time with the possibility of winding up with nothing is abhorrent to me.

      Barring dishonesty, those who complain about lending institutions are simply those who wish to reneg on their agreements. As you mentioned, they lend you the money and you are responsible for paying it back. As for the lending institutions not wishing for people to default on their loans, it seems to depend on the circumstances. If the value of a piece of property appreciates considerably, it might be in a lending institution's best interest if the owner defaults on his loan. Also there are many institutions who make their money on seconds by paying off firsts and then dunning owners . In that case, a default might prove quite profitable for them.

      You're right. No bank or lending institution went bankrupt in Canada during the unnecessary banking crisis--and luck had nothing to do with it. Perhaps Canadians are smarter than Americans in this respect as in several others.

    9. Jack1952

      Defaults can be profitable under specific circumstances. However, the banking crisis was brought on by too many defaults. Many banks went bankrupt so those institutions didn't find defaults profitable at all. In the big picture, defaults are bad for business.

      You're right that luck had nothing to do with Canadian lending institutions remaining solvent during the banking crisis. Canadian banking laws would not allow for the type of investments that the American bankers were involved with. The American government, since Reagan, has had a policy of little or no interference where business is concerned. It was the perfect climate for the greedy and unscrupulous banking executives.

      Owning ones home isn't for everyone. There is nothing wrong with renting if it fits your lifestyle. Some people place too much importance in being property owners.

    10. robertallen1

      You're right, too many defaults at one time can spoil the broth. However, during the "crisis," institutions specializing in seconds had a better chance of surviving, for they were unaffected by early defaults, i.e., a good many of the homeowners had not yet gotten around to taking out seconds, and if, on the other hand, the opportunity were ripe, could pay off the firsts and eventually make a cozy profit.

      One of the main problems with this country is that it feels it has nothing to learn from other countries such as yours with obviously better banking laws. The "hostage crisis" would most likely not have lasted as long as it did if the help of the Israelis had been enlisted early in the game.

      Not only do all too many place too much importance on owning their own home, but look down on those who don't, just as religees look down upon those who refuse to accept their drivel and everything that goes with it. From 1956 until their deaths, my parents owned their own home and as my father was self-employed throughout most of his life, he was never at the mercy of a boss or a company, merely the market. So, owning a home was fine for him and he would have it no other way. Perhaps it was a reaction to the depression in which he grew up. This conceit was passed down to my brother, but not to me who regards the hassle just as just not worth it.

    11. robertallen1

      By definition, slavery is involuntary. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution uses the term "involuntary servitude." On the other hand, debt is voluntary. So what if, as you write, financial sharks are eager to take your home, car, etc. if you stop paying their monthly installments. It's a business deal like any other and as long as it's arm's length and legal, intent is irrelevant. The financial institution is required only to uphold its side just as the borrower is obligated to uphold his or suffer the consequences. If you are alarmed by the prospect of not being able to make the payments at some time in the future, don't enter into the transaction in the first place.

    12. Jared Kenwell

      Tax slavery is involuntary servitude. You are not paying for services you want or receive. The amount is complete fiction, and most of it goes to the banker masters and the lords of war.

    13. robertallen1

      As for as not paying for services one wants or receives--what about the police and fire departments, the coast guard, the park service, etc.? This is moronic.

    14. Jack1952

      Your a slave to survival. Everything you do, eat, possess, even leisure is bought with effort or what we call work or a job. That's life. There is compensation for this effort called wages or pay. Slavery is effort or work without compensation at all without the freedom to choose how, where or who you will work for. Your post is an insult to those unfortunates who are forced into labor without compensation or the freedom to choose their mode of employ due to threats to their physical well being. Slavery is not an ideology but a real and forbidding way of life for those whose lives are threatened it they do not do as they are told. I have worked as an employee for over forty years...but was never a slave. If I didn't like the situation, I quit the job and found some thing else to do. A true slave does not have that option.

  22. Herald

    15:23 on the first video, that guy is Mordechai Orian—the CEO of Global Horizons Inc. I can't say I'm surprised that he would profit from slavery.

    1. Quantumshell

      Thank you for sharing that Herald.