These children, this “hidden population,” are victims of modern-day slavery. The estimated number of slaves in our world today is 10-30 million people. This may seem like a vague number, but after all, how do you count a population that is “hidden?” This undefined, uncounted population encompasses children, women, and men that are victims of forced labor, bonded labor, and human trafficking.
According to The CNN Freedom Project slavery occurs “when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence to maintain that control, exploits them economically, pays them nothing and they cannot walk away.” Even though this is illegal in all parts of the world, it is occurring all over the world. These human beings are being sold for an average of $90—the cheapest in history—then used, beaten, and killed, all for the price of inexpensive consumer goods. Human beings such as Abdul and Miguel are seen as disposable, a commodity, similar to the very product they make, and we buy.
We cannot lie to ourselves and think this happens in a far off land, ignoring the fact modern-day slavery occurs right here in the United States of America—a place where freedom is supposed to be valued. Statistics explain that between 14,500-17,500 human beings are trafficked in the U.S. each year. Laura Clemmens, a government lawyer in Dayton, OH explains, “the hard part is bringing it into the light. At the moment these crimes are clouded in secrecy.”
Filmmakers, such as Robert Bilheimer, are attempting to do just that—bring light to the issues of modern-day slavery through film. Not My Life is a documentary that vividly illustrates the stories of victims from all around the world. “wrong can be made right.” Inspired by a quote from Abraham Lincoln over a century ago explaining that, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”