History of slavery


The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. However, the social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.

Slavery occurs relatively rarely among hunter-gatherer populations because it develops under conditions of social stratification. Slavery operated in the first civilizations . Slavery features in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi , which refers to it as an established institution. Slavery was widespread in the ancient world found in almost every other ancient civilization such as the Roman Empire. It became less common throughout Europe during the Early Middle Ages, although it continued to be practiced in some areas. Both Christians and Muslims captured each other as slaves during centuries of warfare in the Mediterranean. Islamic slavery encompassed mainly Western and Central Asia, Northern and Eastern Africa, India, and Europe from the 7th to the 20th century. The Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British and a number of West African kingdoms played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade, especially after 1600.

Although slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world , human trafficking remains an international problem and an estimated 25-40 million people were enslaved as of 2013, the majority in Asia. During the 1983–2005 Second Sudanese Civil War people were taken into slavery. Evidence emerged in the late 1990s of systematic child-slavery and trafficking on cacao plantations in West Africa.

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Slavery in the 21st century continues and generates $150bn in annual profits; modern transportation has made human trafficking easier. Regions with armed conflict have vulnerable populations. In 2019 there were an estimated 40 million people worldwide subject to some form of slavery, 25% of them children. 61% are used for forced labor, mostly in the private sector. 38% live in forced marriages. Other examples of modern slavery are child soldiers, sex trafficking, sexual slavery.
Evidences of slavery antedate written records; the practice has existed in many if not most cultures. Mass slavery requires economic surpluses and a high population-density to be viable. Due to these factors, the practice of slavery would have only proliferated after the invention of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution, about 11,000 years ago.


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