Not Again?

"Modern Slavery Human bondage in Africa, Asia, and the Dominican Republic by Ricco Villanueva Siasoco This article was posted on April 18, 2001. When a ship carrying hundreds of people was recently turned away from Benin, Africa, officials suspected that the children on board were human slaves. The incident once again brought attention to the problem of slavery. At this moment, millions of men, women, and children—roughly twice the population of Rhode Island—are being held against their will as modern-day slaves. Modern Day Slaves Sometimes referred to as bonded laborers (because of the debts owed their masters), public perception of modern slavery is often confused with reports of workers in low-wage jobs or inhumane working conditions. However, modern-day slaves differ from these workers because they are actually held in physical bondage (they are shackled, held at gunpoint, etc.). Modern-day slaves can be found laboring as servants or concubines in Sudan, as child "carpet slaves" in India, or as cane-cutters in Haiti and southern Pakistan, to name but a few instances. According to Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest human rights organization, there are currently over 20 million people in bondage. Where does this slavery take place? Who are the faces behind these atrocities? Slave Trading on Africa's West Coast The slave trade in Africa was officially banned in the early 1880s, but forced labor continues to be practiced in West and Central Africa today. UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children from this region are sold into slavery each year. Many of these children are from Benin and Togo, and are sold into the domestic, agricultural, and sex industries of wealthier, neighboring countries such as Nigeria and Gabon. UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children from West and Central Africa are sold into slavery each year. The most recent incident involved the MV Etireno, which was refused from ports in Gabon and Cameroon. When the ship reached Cotonou, Benin, in April, 2001, police began an investigation of the captain and crew. More adults than children were believed to be aboard. Chattel slavery in Sudan The enslavement of the Dinkas in southern Sudan may be the most horrific and well-known example of contemporary slavery. According to 1993 U.S. State Department estimates, up to 90,000 blacks are owned by North African Arabs, and often sold as property in a thriving slave trade for as little as $15 per human being. "There he found several Dinka men hobbling, their Achilles tendons cut because they refused to become Muslims." —from an ASI report on Sudanese slavery Animist tribes in southern Sudan are frequently invaded by Arab militias from the North, who kill the men and enslave the women and children. The Arabs consider it a traditional right to enslave southerners, and to own chattel slaves (slaves owned as personal property). Physical mutilation is practiced upon these slaves not only to prevent escape, but to enforce the owners' ideologies. According to an ASI report: "Kon, a thirteen-year-old Dinka boy, was abducted by Arab nomads and taken to a merchant's house. There he found several Dinka men hobbling, their Achilles tendons cut because they refused to become Muslims. Threatened with the same treatment the boy converted." In a detailed article by Charles Jacobs for the American Anti-Slavery Group (ASI), Jacobs recounts how a 10-year-old child was taken in a raid on her village in southern Sudan, and branded by her master with a hot iron pot. Child "carpet slaves" in India Kidnapped from their villages when they are as young as five years old, between 200,000 and 300,000 children are held captive in locked rooms and forced to weave on looms for food. In India—as well in other countries—the issue of slavery is exacerbated by a rigid caste system. Civil War Slaves Many of our images of human slavery, like the one above, date from the American Civil War. However, there are an estimated 200 million people in bondage today. The International Labor Rights and Education Fund is one organization that has rescued many of these child slaves. The group recalls this scene: "Children work in damp pits near the loom. Potable water is often unavailable and food consists of a few chapatis [bread balls], onions and salt...The children often are made to sleep on the ground next to their looms, or in nearby sheds. After working from ten to fourteen hours, they are expected to clean out their sheds and set up work for the next day." Shackled laborers in Pakistan Many of the bonded laborers are shackled in leg-irons in Pakistan. Though much of the debt these cane-harvesters have incurred is real, the practice of exchanging human labor for landowners' loans is illegal. In a 1992 law passed by the Pakistani government, landlords are barred from offering loans in exchange for work or to hold workers hostage to their debts. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has freed approximately 7,500 bonded laborers since 1995. By the commission's estimates, there are still roughly 50,000 bonded laborers in southern Singh. Many of those freed now reside in the city of Hyderabad in makeshift camps. Most are afraid to return to their homeland, however, for fear they will be recaptured and enslaved again. In the Dominican Republic, the collection of slaves for the busy harvest season is more random. The Dominican army, with the support of the State Sugar Council (known as the CEA), "hauls Haitians off public buses, arrests them in their homes or at their jobs, and delivers them to the cane fields," according to Charles Jacobs. Some of the cane-cutters sign on to work voluntarily. When the number of workers does not meet the harvest's demand, the Dominican army is set into action. The army's captives are forced to work at gunpoint and beaten if they try to escape. Beyond the Emancipation Proclamation Accounts of human beings as modern slaves extend beyond those described here, and include young girls sold into prostitution in Thailand and slave chattels in Mauritania. Though most Americans believe slavery was abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation more than a century ago, the horrors of human beings held in bondage flourishes today."


Billy said...


Your blog is pretty real but kinda confusing. You put a post on modern slavery but still perform shows in countries that except it. You have shows in Dubai but have you ever been to the York Club, Astoria Hotel, or even the African Hotel? Most females that frequent these locals are sex workers. Brought to Dubai under the promise of office work but once there, their passports are taken from them by there employers and told in order to return home they must "work" off the debt of voyage. This cost is normally 10,000 US. During this time they are introduced to other girls from simular origins i.e. Russians, Uzbeks, Tajics, to russian speakers, Africans to other Africans, Chinese with Chinese, etc. During this time there older girls "train" the newer ones while at the same time soaking up debt on the young ones. Virtually making it impossible to repay the debt. This cycle continues unless the girl gets thrown out a window by an angry Arab or becomes pregnant then they are allowed to give birth to a "new" Muslim then immediately deported without baby. Most girls are brought in to entertain Western businessmen in order to make Dubai a international bussiness hub. I don't have a forum or a public voice to speak out about the "jewel of the middle east", I ask that you take some time while you are in Dubai, to see what I'm talking about. Maybe the next time I go to your myspace page I'll see a blog about that. Or maybe the money from Dubai is just to hard to turn away.

It is easy to post about nations that either except it, like Thailand, or can't due to poverty like India, but totally ignore filthy rich nations like Dubai, that can get you a nice "gig". I was told that Islam teaches that if you steal when you have nothing, you go to jail. But if you steal while you are weathy you lose a hand, to show everyone you are a thief, immoral.

Those who rail about people who can't help it but ignore those who can are immoral.

Have fun in Dubai."

Speech said...

Hey Billy,

Dude, give cats (Meaning us) the benefit of the doubt, first off. Jeeesh.

We had no clue about what you are speaking of. However, I'd be glad to check into it, now that I know. Thanks for the info.

My advice to you is, don't always look at everyone as trying to get over, or trying to ignore the problems, or even being hypocrites. I think most people are simply trying to live life and help where they can.

Dubai is a whole country, not just those clubs you mentioned. If we turned down gigs in every country that is doing things that are immoral, we couldn't work anywhere!

Bu we can speak about it once we get there and strive to bring more awareness to the good people of that country.

Thanks again for reaching out.