The Baptist Press is reporting today that almost one million people are sold into servitude every year. The following report was released by the Baptist Press:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Five Arab countries allied with the United States — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar — are among the world’s worst offenders in human slavery and sex trafficking, according to a new report from the U.S. State Department.
Among other atrocities, the annual “Trafficking in Persons Report” documents the problems of children sold into prostitution and forced to become child soldiers. Sixteen countries named in the report have 90 days to improve their efforts to combat trafficking or face possible economic sanctions.
U.S. Ambassador Mark Lagon told Reuters news service it was “especially disappointing” that many of the countries ranked lowest were Middle Eastern nations that have the money to combat the problem. Congressman Chris Smith criticized the fact that 32 countries — among them U.S. allies like India — were kept out of the lowest category.
An estimated 800,000 people — most of them women and girls — are sold into servitude each year. Perhaps half of those are minors.
It is tragic that slavery is still a fact of life for so many people in this age of enlightenment.
Israel had experienced slavery in Egypt, thus the stealing and selling of a person was considered a capital crime in Israel: “Whoever kidnaps a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death” (Exodus 21:16).
This law forbids kidnapping of persons for sale in the slave market. The law also punishes the slave dealer who confines a person as a slave to be sold to another person.
A similar law in the book of Deuteronomy dealing with involuntary servitude reveals how insidious the slave market was in the Ancient Near East, even in Israel: “If someone is caught kidnapping another Israelite, enslaving or selling the Israelite, then that kidnaper shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deuteronomy 24:7).
Slavery is the victimization of men and women and it deprives them of their rights as human beings and violates their dignity as people of worth. Slavery must come to an end. Nations must rise and unite against any form of involuntary servitude.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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