What is Slavery?
Slavery is the state of a slave. It is a system in which people are treated as property, they are sold, bought and forced to work or perform certain tasks. A person freed from slavery is called a freedman (especially during the Roman Empire).
Throughout history, slavery has been institutionalized and recognized. Currently all countries prohibit slavery although it is estimated that there are between 20 and 30 million slaves worldwide. Slavery comes in many forms: forced marriages, child soldiers, debt slavery … Today, there are various organizations like Amnesty International that denounce slavery.
Abolition of slavery
The abolition or prohibition of slavery has occurred in different places and times, in many cases for a short period of time.
In antiquity, slavery was abolished in the area of India and China.
During the Middle Ages there were advances on this topic. The year 1315 can be mentioned in which Louis X publishes a Decree proclaiming the idea of freedom in France and stating that slaves should be freed. In this period, countries like Iceland, Sweden or Japan prohibit slavery.
In the Modern Age, Pope Paul III condemned the slavery of all the inhabitants of the colonies in 1537. Five years later, Spain became the first European country to abolish slavery in the colonies.
In the Contemporary Age, two fundamental milestones that helped abolish slavery in the West are considered. On the one hand, the Enlightenment and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen during the French Revolution. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution, started in England and which proposed a new organization of the labor system.
At the present time, it is celebrated on December 2 the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery Following a convention organized by Unesco in 1949 that was the issue.
Examples of slavery
In the Roman Empire (like the Greeks and the Phoenicians), slavery was institutionalized. Entire towns were enslaved mainly for forced labor. Many people were also treated as sex slaves or gladiators. It is estimated that 25% of the population under the Roman Empire were slaves. Slavery became one of the foundations of the economic system in the Roman world.
During the period of colonization of Africa and America by European empires slavery was widespread, applying to the natives of those territories. There was even a commercial system in which slaves were treated as merchandise and sent from the African continent to America to carry out forced labor depriving them of their rights.
An example of slavery today is that practiced in many countries where there are criminal organizations related to prostitution that practice a form of slavery.
Some historical figures who during their lives were enslaved are:
- A writer of fables, he lived around the 6th century BC, was born as a slave and later lived as a freedman.
- He was a soldier, slave and gladiator of the Roman Empire.
- Patrick. Captured and sold as a slave in Ireland in the 5th century, he later became a monk and a missionary, becoming the Patron Saint of Ireland today.