This piece by Nicholas Kristof, in the IHT, clearly shows that despite what one might think, slavery in the truest sense of the word is alive and well in the 21st century. Couldn't be, you say! Read on:
"Anyone who thinks that the word "slavery" is hyperbole when used to describe human trafficking today should meet Meena Khatun. She not only endured the unbearable, but has also shown that a slave trader's greed sometimes is no match for a mother's love.
Human trafficking is the big emerging human rights issue for the 21st century, but it's an awful term, a convoluted euphemism. As Meena's story underscores, the real issue is slavery.
Meena was kidnapped from her village in north India by a trafficker and eventually locked up in a 13-girl brothel in the town of Katihar.
When she was perhaps 11 or 12 - she remembers only that it was well before she had begun to menstruate - the slaver locked her in a room with a white-haired customer who had bought her virginity. She cried and fought, so the mother and two sons who owned the brothel taught Meena a lesson.
"They beat me mercilessly, with a belt, sticks and iron rods," Meena recalled. Still, Meena resisted customers, despite fresh beatings and threats to cut her in pieces.
Finally, the brothel owners forced her to drink alcohol until she was drunk. When she passed out, they gave her to a customer."