Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term chattel slavery to refer to this specific sense of legalised, de jure slavery. In a broader sense, however, the word slavery may also refer to any situation in which an individual is de facto forced to work against their own will. Scholars also use the more generic terms such as unfree labour or forced labour to refer to such situations. However, and especially under slavery in broader senses of the word, slaves may have some rights and protections according to laws or customs.
Slavery began to exist before written history, in many cultures. A person could become enslaved from the time of their birth, capture, or purchase.
Historically, slavery has been legalized institutionally in most societies at some point, but is now outlawed in all recognized countries. The last country to officially abolish slavery was Mauritania in 2007. Nevertheless, there are an estimated 40.3 million people worldwide subject to some form of modern slavery. The most common form of modern slave trade is commonly referred to as human trafficking. In other areas, slavery (or unfree labour) continues through practices such as debt bondage, the most widespread form of slavery today, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage.
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