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Slaves in a ship.

A slave is someone who is not free but belongs to another person. A slave is owned like a thing or an animal is owned, and can be sold also. The owner of a slave is usually forcing the slave to work hard. Slaves also live poorly and are beaten.

History[edit | edit source]

In history we often see that a country found it okay that the people there could own slaves. Slaves lived for example in the Roman Empire and in the southern states of the United States of America.[1]

People could become a slave in three ways:

  • Some had a debt which they could not pay. Instead of paying back, they became the slave of the person to whom they owned the money.
  • Others became slaves during war: often, the winners in a war took the losers as slaves.
  • Many slaves have never been free but were born as slaves.

Some slave owners allowed slaves to have families, or to save money of their own. If a slave had saved a lot of money, he could pay for his own freedom.

Modern slavery[edit | edit source]

Although the United Nations have made slavery illegal, slavery is still alive today, with more than 21 million slaves in the world.[2]

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, EXCEPT as punishment for a crime. In Congress, it was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865. The amendment was ratified by the required number of states on December 6, 1865.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. See Slavery in the USA.
  2. What is modern slavery?, homepage of Anti-Slavery International.
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