History of slavery

The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. Likewise, its victims have come from many different ethnicities and religious groups. The social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.[1]

Slavery occurs relatively rarely among hunter-gatherer populations[2] because it develops under conditions of social stratification.[3] Slavery operated in the first civilizations (such as Sumer in Mesopotamia,[4] which dates back as far as 3500 BC). Slavery features in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1860 BCE), which refers to it as an established institution.[5] Slavery was widespread in the ancient world. It was found in almost every ancient civilization, including the Roman Empire. It became less common throughout Europe during the Early Middle Ages, although it continued to be practiced in some areas. Both Christians and Muslims captured each other as slaves during centuries of warfare in the Mediterranean.[6] Islamic slavery encompassed mainly Western and Central Asia, Northern and Eastern Africa, India, and Europe from the 7th to the 20th century. The Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British and a number of West African kingdoms played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade, especially after 1600.

Although slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world, human trafficking remains an international problem and an estimated 25-40 million people were enslaved as of 2013, the majority in Asia.[7] During the 1983–2005 Second Sudanese Civil War people were taken into slavery.[8] Evidence emerged in the late 1990s of systematic child-slavery and trafficking on cacao plantations in West Africa.[9]

Slavery in the 21st century continues and generates $150 billion in annual profits; modern transportation has made human trafficking easier.[10] Regions with armed conflict have vulnerable populations.[11] In 2019 there were an estimated 40 million people worldwide subject to some form of slavery, 25% of them children.[10] 61%[nb 1] are used for forced labor, mostly in the private sector. 38%[nb 2] live in forced marriages.[10] Other types of modern slavery are child soldiers, sex trafficking, and sexual slavery.

  1. ^ Klein, Herbert S.; III, Ben Vinson (2007). African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean (2nd ed.). New York [etc.]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195189421.
  2. ^ Smith, Eric Alden; Hill, Kim; Marlowe, Frank; Nolin, David; Wiessner, Polly; Gurven, Michael; Bowles, Samuel; Mulder, Monique Borgerhoff; Hertz, Tom; Bell, Adrian (February 2010). "Wealth Transmission and Inequality Among Hunter-Gatherers". Current Anthropology. 51 (1): 19–34. doi:10.1086/648530. PMC 2999363. PMID 21151711. Summary characteristics of hunter-gatherer societies in the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCSS). [...] Social stratification [: ...] Hereditary slavery 24% [...].
  3. ^ Wanzola, Hamba (30 November 2012). Rediscovering the Hidden World: The Changing Human Geography of Kongo. Xlibris Corporation. p. 72. ISBN 978-1479751914. Slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations as slavery depends on a system of social stratification.
  4. ^ Tetlow, Elisabeth Meier (2004). "Sumer". Women, Crime and Punishment in Ancient Law and Society: Volume 1: The Ancient Near East. Women, Crime, and Punishment in Ancient Law and Society. 1. New York: A&C Black. p. 7. ISBN 9780826416285. Retrieved 17 March 2019. In Sumer, as in most ancient societies, the institution of slavery existed as an integral part of the social and economic structure. Sumer was not, however, a slavery based economy.
  5. ^ "Mesopotamia: The Code of Hammurabi". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. e.g. Prologue, "the shepherd of the oppressed and of the slaves" Code of Laws No. 307, "If any one buy from the son or the slave of another man".
  6. ^ Ariel Salzmann (2013). "Migrants in Chains: On the Enslavement of Muslims in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe". Religions. Between the Renaissance and the French Revolution, hundreds of thousands of Muslim men and women from the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean were forcibly transported to Western Europe.
  7. ^ "Inaugural Global Slavery Index Reveals more Than 29 Million people Living In Slavery". Global Slavery Index 2013. 4 October 2013. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Slavery, Abduction and Forced Servitude in Sudan". US Department of State. 22 May 2002. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference theAustralian-20867 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ a b c Kate Hodal (31 May 2016). "One in 200 people is a slave. Why?". The Guardian.
  11. ^ "10 countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery". Global Slavery Index. Retrieved 3 June 2020.


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