Slavery can be traced back to many of the world’s oldest societies, from the “cradle of civilisation” in Mesopotamia to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as the Mayan and Aztec empires.Male prisoners of war and captured sailors became labourers; women from pillaged areas became concubines and domestic servants; children were used as farm hands or to help around the house. In medieval Europe, serfdom – in which a person is tied to a property instead of a “master” – slowly took hold, while the Arab slave trade flourished on the African continent.In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, “shanghaiing” was a popular practice of tricking or kidnapping men to work on sailing and fishing vessels, while able-bodied men were forcibly press-ganged into the Royal Navy. Europeans colonised the Americas with the help of the transatlantic slave trade and subsequent slave markets, where Africans were inspected, bought and sold in public squares, during a period known as “chattel slavery”.Abolitionists in the UK began campaigning to end slavery in the 1760s, but it wasn’t actually abolished until 1833. The US followed in 1865. The last country in the world to abolish slavery was Mauritania, in 1981, yet activists believe up to 20% of its population is still enslaved today.