The UN estimates that there are, in 2007, some 11 million slaves in the world - MORE THAN AT ANY OTHER POINT IN HISTORY. They define a slave as someone effectively "owned" by another person.
The vast majority are used as sweatshop labour in India, Pakistan and the Far East.
There is an open market in child slaves in the Ivory Coast's capital, Abidjan.
Child slave markets exist in Nigeria, where there is a lucrative sex trade to Arab countries and Europe, especially Italy.
Most child slaves end up on cotton, coffee, rubber or cocoa plantations. Many plantations are on the Ivory Coast, which produces nearly 50% of the world's cocoa, and where 90% of plantations are estimated to use some slave labour.
In West Africa, slaves have for a very, very long time been one of the few recognised forms of private property, and indicators of private wealth.
West Africa had a thriving slave trade long before the arrival of European slave traders in the 16th century. Most slaves in those days were sold to Muslim North Africa.
When the Europeans arrived, the West African tribal chiefs became willing accomplices, and grew wealthy by exchanging slaves for luxury goods and arms. Those arms enabled them to grow their slave trade to the extent that, at the start of the 1800s (when the Atlantic trade was at its peak) there were more African Slaves serving African masters than there were serving white plantation owners in the Americas. To put this into perspective, there were in excess of 13million slaves transported to the Americas.
African slave traders were amongst the strongest opponents of the abolition of slavery.
West Africa, once called the Slave Coast still has a flourishing slave trade. In West and Central Africa, Unicef estimates 200,000 children annualy. They are now cheaper than ever before. $100 per head - a tenth the $1,000 of the 1850s (and that $1,000 is $50,000 in todays terms).
When Britain abolished slavery in 1833 and blockaded many West African ports to prevent slave ships from transporting their cargo, the slave trade out of Benin (Dahomey as it was then) was around 10,000 slaves every year. Now it is nearer 100,000 annually.
Drawing any conclusion from the evidence available opens one up to charges of racial prejudice, whether justified or not. Two trueisms do spring to mind, however.
It takes two to trade.
(For every buyer there is a seller - and BOTH are morally and humanely wrong.)
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
(The wrongs of the past are spilt milk, let us address the future to prevent the trade continuing.)