Prohibition of Slavery

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Contemporary forms of slavery

Slavery obviously is a complete denial of human dignity, freedom and equality, because it means treating a human being as a mere commodity. The prohibition of slavery therefore belongs to those "absolute" human rights norms which do not allow for any derogation even in a state of emergency. However, despite the global ban on slavery, even today numerous people, especially women, live in situations of extreme poverty and unilateral dependence on others, i.e. situations which amount to forms of factual slavery. This is true also in Europe and Germany. Examples of contemporary forms of slavery are forced labour, forced marriages, or human trafficking. Under human rights conventions, States have an obligation to take effective measures against all situations in which people factually are deprived of their rights, and provide empowerment and access to justice. A human rights based approach in combating contemporary forms of slavery should, first and foremost, improve the situation of those affected or endangered by such forms of human rights violations.