For many people around the world, the fact that December 2 is celebrated as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery may seem like an archaic throwback. After all, the days of the trans-Atlantic slave trade are long over, and in 1981 the African nation of Mauritania became the last country in the world to formally abolish the practice, even if remnants still linger in the shadows. Yet according to economist Siddharth Kara at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, there are more than three times as many people in forced servitude today as were captured and sold during the entire 350-year span of the transatlantic slave trade. The fact that slavery is not a thing of the past, despite global treaties banning its existence, can be attributed to many factors.
In the case of African men and women forced to sell their bodies or labor for little to no pay in Europe, it has a lot to do with an immigration policy out of sync with the demands of the European labor market, combined with the inevitability that young Africans will migrate, no matter the risk, in search for better opportunities than they can find at home.