Involuntary Servitude: The Variations of Slavery


There are a number of different ways to say slavery or bondage or maybe captivity but I feel that there is only one phrase that can capture just about every aspect of slavery, which is Involuntary Servitude. Any form of slavery is involuntary, it is forced labor that is put upon persons viewed to be insignificant for reasons such as their race, their age, or gender. This page presents some aspects of Involuntary Servitude in those areas.


A condition in which one human being [is] owned by another. A slave [is] considered by law as property or chattel, and [is] deprived of most of the human rights ordinarily held by free persons. Conscription which is also called draft compulsory enrollment for service in a country's armed forces, is not to far away from slavery. The difference is the way you're used. Conscripted workers aren't treated so badly and what they are required to do isn't so disrespectful. It has existed at least from the time of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (27th century BC), but there have been few instances, ancient or modern, of universal conscription. The usual form, even during total war, has been selective service.

Now Corvee labor is the unpaid labour that a European vassal owed a lord or that a citizen in later times owed the state, either in addition to or in lieu of taxes or another form of labor closely related, is Statute labor, which is the unpaid work on public projects that is required by law. Under the Roman Empire, certain classes of the population owed personal services to the state or to private proprietors.

Child Labor

Employment of children of less than a specified legal age. Here is a little girl washing her masters hands in Mauritania."The General Accounting Office recently cited an estimate of 300,000 fifteen to seventeen-year olds working in agriculture each year". There may be more because child under the age of fourteen are not allowed to counted in nationally-based survey in farmworkers. These children result to working at ages as young as four and five because their families are living in such poverty that, they have too. Other reasons there is still Child labor is because there are no other jobs available and many of them choose to " in agriculture rather than working fast food..." (

Slavery within the context of Male and Female Relationships

"The male is acknowledged as the head of the household and his superior authority had to be unquestioned" (Judith Evans-Grubbs) In some families young males are taught that they are to assume the more dominant role in the relationship. "Rageful and violent men come from all walks of life. Some women leave their relationships too soon when they have his attention and he is demonstrating real change" (

Some cultures believe that men have the right to control their wives' and their behaviors That women who challenge that right by asking for household money or by expressing the needs of the children, may be punished. In some countries it is also believed t hat for these acts, physical abuse is simply chastisement for their mischief. ( Dynamics of Abuse) It seems that the wives of these men never become adults, they are treated like children in their own homes.


In relationship to I, Rigoberta Menchu the enslaved struggled as they went through the torture from their oppressors while staring in the face their repressed poverty-stricken existence I found other similarities in another book we read, Arrow of God, the enslaved went through the destruction of their culture under British colonial rule as well as in the story.

The theme here is forced labor, upon anyone. Many people of the Indigenous areas were conscripted to labor in their villages. Some of those that were enslaved gave resistance, Rosario Castellanos deliver s it best in the novel Nine Guardians. In this novel the Indians rise up against the landowners and demand their rights, Castellanos also suggests that the rest of society should do the same against those responsible for male supremacy. There was a lot of slavery going on and there are also many accounts of slavery revolts. There is evidence of revolts in Traven's novel Rebellion of the Hanged, which is creeping up to the time of the Mexican Revolution, when a large group of oppressed workers in a mahogany plantation feel the desire to rise up and take back there lives. They face their oppressors when they feel they can't go anymore and they're willing to risk anything for their freedom. Many of them felt that their lives were being interfered with by the European colonialism. Under their rule the indigenous people had nothing else to do but conform to their ways and obey. But some said no and refused to do the work and go to work the plantations.

Woman suffrage has been going for such a long time it seems like it will never go away. Egyptian woman suffered a great deal living with fear everyday and oppression. This theme is displayed very well in the novel Woman at Point Zero, where this woman who is just like all those woman suffering in the Middle East. But in this story a woman becomes empowered and gets a better understanding of life as well as an introduction to herself. Women empowerment is coming and is taking on a face. There is a lesson to be learned from all the different aspects of slavery and it is to be grateful and to always know that whatever it is that you are going through, there is always someone else going through something much worse and there is nothing they can do about it. And there are women confined to their homes, living with fear everyday,with nowhere to turn. They are treated as less than human and it has to stop. Also, we learn about slavery and conscripted labor in a form of history but it's not just history at all, there is still slavery and child labor going on today. It is just too far away for anyone to care.



The Exploitation of children and minorities

Child Labor: employment of children of less than a specified legal age.

Children as young as seven were working in mines, factories, fields, and service enterprises. Here are little boys working in a cigar factory. I feel that people didn't give the era of Child Labor the recognition it was owed. Many families would have not gotten by if it hadn't been for the children that worked so ha rd for them. Many of those families weren't able to support themselves and it was the child that brought home the bacon. Many children around the 18th century in London worked 16 hours days while some children were off at school. Children were forced by economic conditions as well as their oppressors to work. There were children as young as 3 years old put to work before the mid century back then.

"Recently in 1997, McDonald’s has formed a ten year exclusive global marketing alliance with Walt Disney. Keyhinge Toys Company located in Da Ning City, Vietnam, employs a thousand workers in which ninety percent are women. Women as young as seventeen earn $4.20 for a seventy hour work week and all workers are forced to complete overtime hours for a mere six to eight cents an hour."( 1.htm 1-2) (

Slavery and some of it's history

Slavery has a history dating back to the Shang dynasty in China (18th -12th century BC). About 5% of China's population was enslaved. The way they were generated there in China was the same everywhere else slavery had reached. With slave raiding, sale of insolvent debtors and capture in war. In China the selling and buying of women and children was allowed to repay debts. China didn't actually develop into a slave society but slavery moved on to other places such as Korea, India, and Asia. Slaves were used in Mesoamerica as porters in the absence of animals. And some were eaten by the social elite. Then on to England, Scandinavia, Russia, and Islamic societies, slavery traveled.

"There was approximately 1 8,000,000 African slaves delivered into the Islamic trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades between 650 and 1905." (

Slavery became popular and swept the nation quickly. People all around the world choosing a race of human beings to force harsh labor upon. To put into bondage, to sell as if items at a flea market. Slaves societies were growing as the idea the of slavery from the beginning had changed. The goal now was to treat them as less than humans, beat and kill them if they didn't obey.

The slave population was sometimes recruited by the sale, abandonment, or kidnapping of small children. Free people could sell themselves or, more frequently, their offspring into slavery. They could be enslaved for insolvency, as could be the person s offered by them as pledges. In some systems, notably that of Rome, free persons could also be enslaved for a variety of offenses against the law.

Psychology on the Male and Female relationship

Randall Collins, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology, suggests that male dominance rests on two sources of coercion, one being the Physical force and the other is the controlled economic resources not limited to domination by sex, but also recognize domination of social class race.

Men uphold this role of superiority because our culture, by media and televisions, suggests that they can and should control women and that women want and need to be controlled. Until very recently, women were considered the property of men. Under British common Law, husbands were allowed to treat their wives as property. For many years men were considered to be superior to women, This idea has been defined by our culture through the media and things of that sort. And for a long time this was treated religiously.



History of Slavery


A website that gives in detail the history and accounts of slavery's beginnings and major areas.


Slavery Today; where people are still living with forced labor with no pay. There are pictures and ways for you to help save people and try to finally put an end to slavery.


A Woman who freely gives in to submission and enjoys life as an inferior spous to her dominant husband. There are some entries of her daily life and reasons for her acceptance of this kind of lifestyle.


Women who are confined to their homes, physically & sexually abused by their husbands


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Discussion Questions:

  1. Based on the history taught in American classrooms, how has the practice of slavery evolved from it's beginning to it's present form in the modern world, in your view?
  2. What may be the differences or similarities between slavery and other social institutions?
  3. Do you think they'll ever an end to Child Labor? What are some ways we can help?
  4. How would children today react if Child Labor was enforced in America? Should there be something done about the labor Mcdonalds is enforcing?

Paper Topics:

  1. The Modern Woman
  2. The Lives of Freedmen
  3. Child Labor from The Beginning to The Present
  Citations /Styx/7487/articles/disney_slavelabor.htm

"conscription" Encyclopedia Britannica

Colonial & Postcolonial Literary Dialogues

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Page Created by: Nicole Hamilton

Last Updated: March 27, 2002