Human slavery rampant even today

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Tuesday marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln’s historic speech at the dedication of the national cemetery established to honor those killed at the battle of Gettysburg.

It was in the midst of a time the United States was struggling over many issues, slavery among them.

Slavery was not an American phenomenon, but a tragic circumstance of humanity dating back to our beginnings. Emancipation in the United States put us on the path to righting this wrong, but we should not turn a blind eye to the realities of slavery worldwide today.
It is estimated that 30 million people live in slavery today, primarily through indebtedness or international sex trade. If we stop for a moment and think about how inconceivable it is for us today to believe one person could have the right of ownership over another, we know this is a practice that can’t be ignored and certainly never tolerated.

Race relations in the United States are not where they should be, but we have long passed the point in our history where ownership of another human being is acceptable. In parts of the world, women and children are enslaved in prostitution, and many people are enslaved over debt that is passed down from one generation to another. Can we ignore the inhumanity of a situation that allows one person to profit from the control and ownership of another?

If we are truly dedicated to those basic principles our nation was founded on – “that all men are created equal” – then this is a crusade we must carry on throughout the world. We cannot be the symbol of freedom if we don’t act to protect and secure that most basic right for all people.

We argue for the spread of democracy and an end to authoritarian governments, but we must also speak out and act against these modern forms of slavery that strip away human freedom.