Blog piece
31 July 2018

Many ULIP students make the most of their time studying in Paris to get involved in internships, work experience and voluntary work, taking up the opportunities that come with living in one of the world’s great political and cultural capitals. Fitting part-time work around your studies at ULIP can really help you to explore your career options, improve language and employability, and boost your CV with valuable experience, not to mention providing an extra source of financial support.

Incoming third year student, Kameni Chaddha (BA French Studies with History), has spent the last ten months interning with the non-profit organisation, slavefreetrade, who work to raise awareness of the prevalance of slavery in many product supply chains. Working with slavefreetrade has allowed Kameni to develop her interests in international work, complementing lots of what she’s studied at ULIP in her Minor in History.

We asked Kameni to feature one of the blog posts that she’s written for the organisation to give us a sense of what she’s been campaigning about during her time there and she very kindly said yes! This is the second piece, click here to read the first blog post.

Slavery isn’t over

Many today believe that slavery is over. Except we have more slaves today than ever before. Slavery today often impacts people in various countries, from the United States to less developed countries such as Haiti and can affect whole families. Often, we do not know how many people really are enslaved and we struggle to reduce it.

Colonisation today

As a history student, a lot of our studies look at how the past impacts the present, and as with many history topics, slavery in the past has impacted its present. Countries that were previously colonised are today rife with modern day slavery and this is visible in more countries than we may perhaps think.  

Colonisation became a competition between European powers, a way to prove which country had the most imperial power; today those countries have been shaped by colonisation. It is arguable that ex-colonies were impoverished to the extent that their current infrastructures have been set back by colonisation, so the colonial legacy continues today and effects countries economically as well as socially.  

France’s colonisation of Haiti was part of one of the first ever anti-slavery movements in Saint-Domingue in 1791, in which the enslaved population revolted and toppled over the French colonial rule. Despite this, Haiti still rifles with slavery; the GSI (Global Slavery Index) estimated that over 106,000 in 2016 were living in modern slavery[1]. India, an ex-British colony which at the time included Pakistan and Bangladesh, was known as the ‘Jewel in the crown’ thanks to the Kohinoor Diamond. It was also known as ‘Sone ki Chidiya’ in Hindi which in English means the Golden Bird. This phrase was used by Indians to express the breadth of wealthy metals and resources that India had to offer at the time when it was once the world’s largest economy. Colonisation suggests that the infrastructures left behind by ex-rulers cannot today, support the enslaved population residing in those countries, and thus many slaves do not have a way out.

Modern day slavery

If we look at Bangladesh, the road system has not been improved, the rail system is not well connected, and corruption happens on large scales. The Rana Plaza factory collapses in 2013, should have led to an ethical revolution; however not much has changed in the last decade. In fact, clothing stores are constantly making their clothes cheaper, to make us feel richer[2], and consequently, we have more clothes than we need. On average, Americans throws away 11 million tons of clothing each year[3] and many of the clothes we donate to charities are sold overseas. Furthermore, in 2014, the GSI reported that India and Pakistan contributed towards over 45% of world slavery[4]. This slavery extends to more than just the clothes we wear, this includes trafficking and can often affect whole communities.

Although we could argue that certain Eastern European countries have massive enslaved populations as well as certain developed countries, I would like to suggest that colonial legacy still plays a role in these countries today in terms of modern slavery. Colonialist legacy continues today and the infrastructure in many countries is not adequate to provide workers a minimum living wage, nor to have sufficient safe working conditions, furthermore, they are not able to enforce fundamental human rights or basic labour laws on their citizens.

Questions we could ask ourselves could be; do former coloniser countries have a role to play? AND what can be done to help slaves suffering today?



[2] The True Cost documentary