Slavery is forced labor without pay, often involving violence or exploitation. Slavery has significant deleterious consequences for human development across the life span. This entry reviews the definition of slavery, traces a brief history of slavery and abolition, distinguishes the various types of contemporary forms of enslavement, and presents a range of antislavery interventions.

Defining Slavery

Academics have noted that throughout history, slavery has been a relationship of human domination characterized by violence. Most scholars and policy makers agree that slavery consists of violent coercion, meaning an enslaved person is controlled by another person through force or the threat of violence. Historically slaves occupied an extreme social status akin to social death, often losing all hereditary claims from their ancestors as well as to their descendants. Slaves ...

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